Marcos orders gov't support to provinces less vulnerable to El Niño

Provinces that are expected to be less vulnerable to El Niño must also be provided with government interventions as the country will bank on them for agriculture production, President Marcos said.


National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) Undersecretary Rosemarie Edillon said the President ordered that the less vulnerable provinces must be supported for stable food supply amid the dry spell phenomenon.

"[I]n December, there will be a number of provinces that will be less likely to be hit by El Niño. And so, in the briefing this morning – that was actually the instruction of the President – to make sure that we target the production support to these provinces," Edillon said in a Palace briefing on Tuesday, Nov. 7, following a sectoral meeting with Marcos.

Production support will be given to the less vulnerable provinces that will still experience normal rainfall, Edillon said.

Some of these provinces are in Mindanao, Visayas, and eastern part of Luzon.

During the meeting, Edillon said it was reported to the President that the country is experiencing moderate El Niño which is expected to strengthen until the first quarter of 2024 according to the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA).

It is expected to bring below-normal rainfall across the country and may adversely impact agricultural production and energy generation, prompting the President to order agencies to also support the less vulnerable provinces.

While the government intends to also protect the less vulnerable provinces, Edillon stressed that the most vulnerable areas must be protected to ensure that they are able to meet their needs.

"At the same time, it is important to ensure that the most vulnerable sectors of the society are protected and provided assistance especially while food prices remain high amid the expected El Niño," Edillon said.

"So in line with this, the DSWD is currently implementing the pilot run of the food stamp program which will be scaled up by mid-2024. And the Economic Development Group is also recommending the extension of the reduced tariff rates for the most favored nation under Executive Order No. 10, Series of 2022 until the end of 2024 subject to a mid-year review," she added.

Managing the effects of El Niño, the NEDA official stressed, are among the measures that must be taken to address the effects of inflation.

"While we are providing short term measures to address these effects of inflation through subsidies and importation, we also need to address the longstanding challenges in agriculture and food production, and help our local farmers boost their productivity and resilience through investment in irrigation, RND, post-harvest facilities and others," she said.