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Sunday, January 20, 2019

Editorial: No time to wait

THE Davao City Social Services and Development Office chief Maria Luisa Bermudo said that there are at least 2,000 farmers (not farming families but farmers), affected by the strong El Niño. Most affected are farmers in Marilog, Paquibato, and some parts of Calinan, she said.

In an earlier interview, City Agriculturist Office (CAO) chief Rocelio Tabay said that consolidating reports may take time as new reports about the damage come in every week and that it is hard to gather all the data and provide reports because the dry season is still progressing.

We are sorry to say, Mr. Tabay, in situations like these, we cannot wait for the final report. There should have been, this late in our governance, ceiling that are set on how much damage is equivalent to what assistance, then as the damage progresses, greater assistance. It’s called calibrated approach to a problem.

Why wait for a final report? Doesn’t one season of crop failure or half a hectare of rat-ravaged farm already merit assistance?

One crop failure for a poor farmer is already starvation for the entire family. Worse, many of the farmers of Paquibato and Marilog are indigenous peoples who are holding on to a few heirloom rice seeds that they are by now most likely consuming to stave off hunger.

Is the CAO even aware of how much value is being lost by the day because of this?

With the climate bringing in unusual seasons like we have now, government cannot trudge along in the way it used to. Long before the El Niño warning was raised, there should have been policies set on graduate or calibrated actions. But since the El Niño is already upon us and farmers are already starving, the least CAO can do is render the report right away. Why? Because, as the April 14, 2016 El Niño /Southern Oscillation (Enso) Diagnostic Discussion issued by the US Climate Prediction Center/NCEP/NWS and the International Research Institute for Climate and Society they are now on La Niña watch even as they are closely monitoring the temperatures for the ongoing El Niño.

A transition to ENSO-neutral is likely during late Northern Hemisphere spring or early summer 2016 (Sometime June), with an increasing chance of La Niña during the second half of the year. A La Niña after long drought means danger. For with heavy rainfall on dried up soil can bring landslides and flashfloods. There will be no more vegetation to stall the waters, and there will be very crumbly soil that will be waterlogged.

Are we ready for this or will we again wait for a complete report? Definitely not. Flashfloods and landslides on farms that have suffered from a long drought will mean, starvation. C’mon CAO, let’s prove that our City Government is indeed a cut above the rest.
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