Malacañang on Saturday assured the public that programs are already in place to mitigate the effects of the El Niño weather phenomenon.
This came the Times on Saturday bannered a wire report quoting US government scientists as saying that the weather phenomenon that started this year could be the strongest in 65 years.
Deputy presidential spokespersonn Abigail Valte said all concerned government agencies had been told to prepare as early as January.
“First of all, let me say that the President has been watching the situation carefully; meaning, even before the recent news about the coming El Niño in September, the President has already been aware and he’s already been briefed on the progress of El Niño,” she said over government radio station dzRB.
The weather bureau Pagasa early this year alerted the public to prepare for the effects of a four-month dry spell that is forecast to affect 32 provinces.
“Thirty-two provinces will likely be affected by the dry spell from August to November 2015,” the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical, and Astronomical Services Administration (Pagasa) said in its second semester outlook.
Pagasa identified the provinces as Isabela, Aurora, Batangas, Cavite, Rizal, Quezon, Occidental Mindoro, Oriental Mindoro, Romblon, Albay, Catanduanes, Masbate, Sorsogon, Aklan, Antique, Capiz, Guimaras, Iloilo, Negros Occidental, Bohol, Negros Oriental, Siquijor, Southern Leyte , Zamboanga del Norte, Zamboanga del Sur, Zamboanga Sibugay, Southern Cotabato, Sarangani, Sultan Kudarat, Basilan, Maguindanao and Sulu.
Pagasa expects the dry condition to intensify El Niño from “weak” to “moderate” by August and the weather phenomenon may persist until December then gradually weaken in early 2016.
“Such El Niño may likely terminate by May 2016,” it said.