Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) Secretary Rex Gatchalian said on Tuesday (July 4), that the DSWD is ready to provide assistance to the local government units (LGUs) to cope with the possible effects of El Nino.
In an interview with Dexter Ganibe in the maiden airing of The News Breaker media forum, the DSWD chief emphasized that the LGUs are the first responders in disasters and calamities, as stipulated in Republic Act (RA) 10121 or the Philippine Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Act of 2010.
“The first line of defense will be the LGUs. Kami (we), in the DSWD, is part of the NDRRMC (National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council) group but in the response side. Dagdag na tulong kumbaga (additional assistance, in other words),” Secretary Gatchalian explained.
The Secretary mentioned that the Department has already stock-piled food and non-food items, ready to be augmented to the LGUs, families, and communities that will be affected by the El Nino.
“We are also ready to come in with cash assistance. Pero the important fact there is, bagamat handa kami, kailangang mag-coordinate pa rin kami sa LGUs (though we are ready, we still need to coordinate with the LGUs),” Secretary Gatchalian said.
While the effects of El Nino increases, the likelihood of below-normal rainfall conditions still looms.
The Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) said that the enhanced southwest monsoon season may still be expected which may result in above-normal rainfall conditions over the western part of the country.
The DSWD chief said the Department is prepared for any weather disturbance that may occur amid the dry spell.
“Last weekend lang or two weekends ago, nag-declare na ng State of Calamity ang Maguindanao del Sur at Malaybalay City because of torrential rains. Yung volume ng ulan in one day is mala-Habagat, enough na ma-disrupt ang kabuhayan ng mga tao. Pero ginawa ng DSWD doon, working with the local officials, mga legislators natin sa lugar, yung mga provincial government officials natin, we came up with a package of intervention,” the DSWD Secretary pointed out.
(Just last weekend or two weekends ago, Maguindanao del Sur and Malaybalay City declared a State of Calamity because of torrential rains. The volume of rain in one day is like the effects of Habagat, enough to disrupt the livelihood of the affected individuals. But what the DSWD did there, working with the local officials, our legislators in the area, our provincial government officials, we came up with a package of intervention).
“Isa pang package of intervention, immediately, ay pagkain sa bawat hapag. Naantala ang kanilang hanapbuhay, kaya importante na may pagkain sa hapag. So tinulungan natin ang mga LGU sa supply na yan. And sa Maguindanao del Sur, 44,000 ang na-distribute natin. In Malaybalay, if I’m not mistaken, nasa 3,000 hanggang 4,000,” Sec. Gatchalian pointed out.
(Among the package of intervention is food on every table, immediately. Their work is interrupted, so it is important that there is food on the table. So we helped the LGUs with the supply. And in Maguindanao del Sur, we distributed 44,000 (FFPs). In Malaybalay, if I’m not mistaken, it’s around 3,000 to 4,000 (FFPs).)
The DSWD also provided cash for work (CFW) to the affected families and individuals.
In exchange for the work rendered, the program participants were provided with cash to meet their basic necessities such as food, and water, among others.
PAGASA announced on Tuesday (July 4) the start of the El Niño phenomenon in the Tropical Pacific and the effects of the drought will be expected in the Philippines.