P689.9-M IN DAMAGES | OCD to determine if WV be placed under state of calamity

P689.9-M IN DAMAGES | OCD to determine if WV be placed under state of calamity

The Office of the Civil Defense (OCD) Region 6 will determine Tuesday, March 12, if Western Visayas will be declared under the state of calamity because of the extent of damage due to the drought caused by El Niño phenomenon, Cindy Ferrer, OCD-6 spokesperson, said Monday, March 11.

As of March 6, Ferrer said the cost of damage to crops in WV is pegged at P689.9 million with Iloilo topping the list with P486 million worth of damages followed by Antique with P115 million and Negros Occidental with P77.7 million.

Ferrer said Task Group El Niño which also includes Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Officers in Negros Occidental and other provinces in the region are set to convene Tuesday and that assessment of the updated damages will be summarized.

Among the local government units affected in Negros Occidental, Himamaylan City has reported having water shortage in its six barangays and that potable water are delivered by the LGU using trucks with water tanks.

Ferrer said though that Negros Occidental was already categorized in drought condition, which is characterized by more than 60 percent reduction in rainfall for three consecutive months.

But in general, Ferrer said, there is no critical low level water yet in Negros Occidental.

She also explained that the OCD has parameters to declare a state of calamity.

In a related development, nine local government units have cancelled classes from Monday until Tuesday due to the high heat index as forecasted by the weather bureau at 41 degrees Celsius.

Bacolod City Mayor Alfredo Benitez, in his order to suspend classes said it is in response to Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration's forecast of a high heat index .

"Elementary and secondary levels are encouraged to adopt alternative delivery modes as methods of instruction for their students, while the decision for the tertiary level is at the discretion of their respective colleges or university administrators," the mayor said.

The LGUs which ordered a suspension of classes for elementary to high school levels aside from Bacolod are Murcia, Kabankalan City, Silay City, Talisay City, EB Magalona, Hinoba-an, Bago City, and Pulupandan.

Ian Arnold Arnaiz, spokesperson of the spokesperson of the Department of Education-Division of Negros Occidental, said on Monday, March 11, that in the case of public schools, they can resort to modular learning if online classes is not possible.

Arnaiz said the suspension of classes in public schools were executive orders of their respective mayors particularly in EB Magalona, Murcia and Talisay City which is still under the jurisdiction of the division.

"The suspension of classes is part of the responsibility of a school head to ensure that learning is conducive. If not they should find ways for the learners to learn," he pointed out.

He reiterated his earlier statement that school heads have the discretion and prerogative as they are the ones who actually know the condition of the areas where the schools are located.

"There are schools located in wooded areas that are cooler despite the prevalent hot temperature so there is no reason for them to suspend classes. Other schools are located along the coastline that are hotter," he also said.*

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