• Govt braces for El Niño

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    President Benigno Aquino 3rd has ordered members of the Cabinet to prepare a “detailed roadmap” to deal with the effects of this year’s El Niño, which has been predicted to be among the strongest in over six decades.

    Aquino met with members of his Cabinet on Monday to draw up plans on how the country can cope with the weather phenomenon.

    Presidential Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. said the President asked NEDA Secretary Arsenio Balisacan to convene the food security council which is composed of the Departments of Agriculture, Trade and Industry and Finance, the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas, Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical, and Astronomical Services Administration (Pagasa), National Food Authority, National Irrigation Administration and the Philippine Statistics Authority.

    The council will come out with programs on attaining stable food production as well as sustenance of farmers’ incomes.

    Coloma said the President also directed a task force headed by Public Works Secretary Rogelio Singson to ensure that there will be no shortage of potable water. Members of the panel are officials of the Local Water Utilities Administration, National Water Resource Board, Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System, and the National Irrigation Administration.

    The National Disaster Risk Reduction Management Council, meanwhile, was directed to coordinate with its local councils in preparing and implementing community-based water conservation and other mitigation programs, Coloma said.

    At the onset of El Niño in the country in March, the weather bureau warned that the phenomenon may trigger warmer-than-normal temperatures depending on the location and time period.

    El Niño may also affect the track and intensity of tropical cyclones. Storms could shift northward and could become stronger, Pagasa said.

    Foreign scientists forecast that this year’s El Niño could be among the strongest on record since 1950.

    The last El Niño spell five years ago triggered monsoons in Southeast Asia, droughts in southern Australia, the Philippines and Ecuador, blizzards in the United States, heat waves in Brazil and killer floods in Mexico.

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