Last week, the regional office of the Department of Agriculture reported that about P55.3 million in crops were destroyed as the start of the dry spell this year.
Roy Pascua, focal person of the agency on Disaster Risk Reduction Management, said the biggest impact of the dry spell was monitored in Davao del Sur where about 2,000 hectares of farms have been affected.
To mitigate the impact, Pascua said, the agency has sent water pumps to subsidize the irrigation system of the farms.
The Philippines Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration, more popularly known as Pag-asa, announced early last month that El Niño, a weather system associated with low water rainfall, started in November last year and is expected to last until the second quarter of the year.
Despite the early warning from the weather agency, there seemed to be negligible action among government agencies in preparing those vulnerable to this weather pattern.
Local government units (LGUs) should have used their calamity funds in mitigating the impact of the dry spell on agricultural productivity rather than in less important activities that are so-called capacity building.
In justifying the use of calamity funds for other purposes, LGUs need only to come up with resolution that would qualify that their activities are necessary in preparation for calamities even these are nothing but for promoting their candidacies, knowing that elections have been fast approaching.
If one is to look into the coffers of LGUs, they have enough funds for calamity preparedness as about five percent of their annual budget goes into the funds. However, usually these funds are not used to ensure that calamities are mitigated. Instead, they are used for reelection and other personal purposes.
There is a need for LGUs to be true to their mandate even for just once.