THE Department of Agriculture (DA) in Northern Mindanao has reactivated Regional Task Force (TF) on the El Niño/La Niña phenomenon.

The reactivation was ordered by President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo during the Cabinet meeting in Manila last January 26 to enhance inter-agency coordination in the formulation and implementation of measures to mitigate the adverse effects of the said phenomenon on the people.

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It is also in preparation of the onslaught of the abnormal dry season that is expected to cause billions of pesos in agricultural losses, particularly, rice and corn production, which may affect the availability and distribution of food in the country, Regional Executive Director Lealyn A. Ramos of DA-Northern Mindanao said.

Ramos, who is also the TF chairperson, said the phenomenon also have a great impact on the people’s lives, environment, health and socio-economic conditions, livelihood opportunities and essential services, damage to property and national infrastructure, aside from disruption of production.

Members of the TF include all the regional directors of the following departments: Office of Civil Defense (OCD), Interior and Local Government (DILG), Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), Science and Technology (DOST), Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), Public Works and Highways (DPWH), Trade and Industry (DTI) and Health (DOH), Education (DepEd), Energy (DOH), Transportation and Communications (DOTC), Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (Pagasa), Philippine Information Agency (PIA), National Commission for Indigenous People (NCIP) and the Regional Agriculture and Fisheries Council (RAFC).

Among the functions of the TF are:

* The formulation of a comprehensive disaster preparedness and rehabilitation plan to help the people cope with the phenomenon and minimize its disastrous effects and regularly monitor the implementation of such plan.

* Conduct a massive information campaign to educate the public on the phenomenon and the needed interventions to reduce its expected adverse impact and enlist the assistance and support of other government agencies or instrumentalities and the civil society in pursuance of its functions and objectives.

* Identify possible funding sources to implement the activities of the TF in coordination with the Dept. of Budget and Management (DBM). (PIA)