A REELECTIONIST senator has called on the government to hold a "no-nonsense" water summit, as El Niño continues to threaten the country's food and water security.
Senator JV Ejercito said President Rodrigo Duterte "can set the tone of the water summit to be straightforward and practical because of the urgency of the situation."
The Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (Pagasa) earlier announced that the El Niño phenomenon could last until August. The phenomenon started in March this year, and as of April, several places in the country have been placed under state of calamity due to drought.
The Department of Agriculture has reported that agricultural losses due to the El Niño has exceeded P5 billion.
Ejercito said the damage to agriculture could go higher and more provinces may declare the state of calamity in their respective localities.
He said the agriculture sector is a significant contributor in the country's Gross Domestic Product, and it employs over a fourth of the workforce.
"When we talk about the climate, we have to take into account the uncertainty in making plans. These unexpected changes in weather patterns are what we should be preparing for," Ejercito said.
He said a water summit would allow all government agencies and local government units, as well as private stakeholders to coordinate their plans to allow the country to act swiftly on the depleting water resources while preventing wastage of resources and duplication of actions.
For the long term, Ejercito urged the government to speed up the completion of dam projects and other infrastructure initiatives to ensure water security.
He said the existing dams have been built in the 1960s and the country's need for water for drinking, power, agriculture, and industrial uses have steadily increased with the growth of the population.
"We should pursue water supply infrastructure projects," he said. (SunStar Philippines/With PR)