By SHIELA MAE BUTLIG
and NITZ ARANCON
CITY hall and the capitol would likely separately declare the city and the province under a state of calamity as the scorching heat brought about by the dry spell continues to damage farms in this part of the country.
On Monday, Vice Mayor Raineir Joaquin Uy called on officials of barangays adversely affected by the dry season to pass separate resolutions declaring their villages under a state of calamity so that city hall could act on the problem.
In Misamis Oriental, provincial agriculturist Apollo Pacamalan on Wednesday said no town government in the province has declared a state of calamity, but he expected the local governments of Laguindingan, Opol, Alubijid and Libertad to make the declarations anytime soon.
Opol town and Alubijid towns alone, based on initial reports, suffered as much as P30 million in damages to cornfields because of the scorching heat.
Pacamalan said that in the two towns alone, the dry spell has damaged some 800 hectares of cornfields.
“Ang grabe nga naapektuhan is ang corn,” Pacamalan said.
In Cagayan de Oro, Councilor Jay Pascual proposed a city council resolution on the declaration of a state of calamity in the city.
“Because of the scarcity and lack of water supply in upland barangays, residents are now pleading for assistance from the government since their source of livelihood can no longer provide for their daily needs,” Pascual said.
Pascual said the dry spell has also adversely affected hogs, cattle and goats, among others.
Vice Mayor Uy said the city government would need resolutions on the state of calamity declarations from the various barangays that need to be endorsed by the City Disaster and Risk Reduction Management Department, and submitted to the Department of the Interior and Local Government.
Pascual said he was in the process of collating data on the damages.
Pacamalan, the provincial agriculturist, explained that the provincial board can only declare Misamis Oriental under a state of calamity if there are at least two town governments that would place their municipalities under a calamity state.
Once a declaration is made, he said, the capitol can then make use of its five-percent calamity fund to cushion the impact of the dry spell.
The Department of Science and Technology-Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration said northern Mindanao would continue to experience the effects of a “weak” El Niño until May.
Anthony Joseph Lucero, officer in charge of Pagasa Regional Services Division, told a recent news conference that the El Niño is already established here because of the warming of sea surface coupled with trade winds.
He said the region started to experience below normal rainfall, specifically Bukidnon, starting this month.
Rain however may return in May because of the habagat while rainfall is expected to become near normal from June to August.
Pagasa also said drier conditions are expected by the end of March in Bukidnon, Camiguin, Lanao del Norte, and Misamis Oriental. The dry spell is also expected to impact on Misamis Occidental.
In June, Pagasa forecast rainfall would be back to normal, he added.
July, on the other hand, is the peak of the rainy season.
Meanwhile, City Price Coordinating Council co-chairman Edgardo Uy said there has not been a dramatic increase in the prices of basic commodities in the city despite the effects of the El Niño phenomenon.
Uy recently told the city council’s trade and commerce committee that inspectors found that many stores in the city have been selling basic commodities not based on the suggested retail prices issued by the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) in February.
But despite that, the prices of basic commodities remained at reasonable levels, and should not be a cause for alarm.
Uy said there were even basic goods like certain brands of full-cream milk, coffee, vinegar and soy sauce, among others, that showed reduced prices or slightly increased prices. (with reports from PIA)