MANILA – The Philippines weather office warned on Tuesday of an early scorching summer due to El Niño that could exacerbate an ongoing dry spell as the authorities geared up for a possible prolonged drought for the next two months.
The country is already in the middle of a dry weather and the Philippines Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration said the hot summer could set in as early as end-March and high temperatures could worsen the drought.
The dry spell would not abate until the start of the rainy season in June, the PAGASA said.
Amid fears of a prolonged summer, Senator Sonny Angara Tuesday urged the government to take a “proactive stance” in Metro Manila and the rest of the country.
“A man-made disaster over a natural disaster is a double whammy that will leave less food on the table for families and less income for farmers,” Angara said.
“There are threats to agriculture in multiple fronts. The government should help farmers battle the many crises they are facing,” he said.
The authorities have already decided to begin cloud seeding operations, a technique to induce rain and alleviate the drought affecting the country, especially Manila, where around 50,000 households have been experiencing long water supply cuts.
In a post on social media Sunday, Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel Pinol said his department was already coordinating to carry out the operations in the provinces of Bulacan, Pampanga and Rizal in the central part of Luzon Island.
The idea is to fill the La Mesa dam, which supplies water to Metro Manila and where water levels have dropped to their lowest in 12 years. Over 13 million people live in Metro Manila.
“As early as last year, funds were already transferred to the Regional Offices and the Philippine Air Force for cloud-seeding operations in preparation for the El Niño,” Pinol said.
The El Niño weather phenomenon is feared could cause a drought across the region.
Owing to the intense drought, Manila Water and Maynilad, the two water service providers to the capital, have announced periodic supply cuts this week throughout the metropolitan area of Manila, where some neighborhoods have been going without water for 22 hours.
Meanwhile, the authorities in Pagadian, the capital of Zamboanga del Sur in western Mindanao, declared a state of calamity Tuesday as the drought has affected more than 1,000 farmers in the city.