Cebu to be placed under ‘state of calamity’

Cebu Governor Gwendo­lyn Garcia.
Cebu Governor Gwendo­lyn Garcia. File photo

GOV. Gwendolyn Garcia will place the entire province of Cebu under a “state of calamity” to address the widespread damage to crops and livestock caused by the El Niño phenomenon.

In a press conference on Friday, May 17, 2024, Garcia said she will issue an executive order on this matter within the day.

She said the Provincial Board will pass a resolution supporting her decision on Monday, May 20.

She said the whole island has been experiencing extreme heat, prompting the Capitol to investigate the extent of the damage to crop and fishery production across the province.

The governor is scheduled to meet with municipal and city mayors under the Province’s jurisdiction on Thursday, May 23, to discuss possible relief measures.

Garcia said the Capitol will work with the Philippine Crop Insurance Corp. (PCIC) to extend appropriate assistance to farmers and fishermen affected by the El Niño.

She said that most of the registered farmers and fisherfolks in the province have been insurance with the PCIC, with the Provincial Government shouldering the premium.

“Since we already have the initial reports on the damages, we shall expect the PCIC now to come up with proper compensation for the affected farmers and fisherfolks,” she said.

Damage

Jerome Babag of the Cebu Provincial Agriculturist reported on Thursday, May 16, that the damage assessment and losses on the crops and livestock have reached P178 million.

He said the weather phenomenon has affected 12,312 farmers and fisherfolks in Cebu, and has killed 3,173 livestock and poultry.

“This is partial data. We expect the number of damages and losses to climb in the next days or weeks,” he said in a mix of Cebuano and English.

Babag said they started gathering data last February until Thursday, May 16.

Meanwhile, Garcia said the Provincial Government will not provide financial assistance while Cebu is under a “state of calamity.”

“But we will be helping farmers help themselves. That is the culture we want to cultivate in the entire province of Cebu and not the culture of mendicancy. You only get lazy people,” Garcia said.

Aside from the damage to crops and fisheries, the El Niño has also caused a water shortage, particularly in Metro Cebu, where some rivers and water facilities have dried up.

To address this concern, Garcia said the Capitol has started desilting the Mananga River in Talisay City, as well as the Luyang River in the northern town of Carmen.

The dredging is slated to alleviate the water production deficit of the Metropolitan Cebu Water District (MCWD) that supplies majority of consumers in these areas.

Garcia said the Capitol issued special permits to six contractors to extract, dredge and clear the buildup of sand and gravel to clear water pathways in the Mananga River that have dried up.

She believed the river dried up not because of the lack of rain but because of heavy siltation.

She said water was indeed found underneath the excavation.

“There is water. You just need to bring back the river channel because right now it has become a road,” Garcia said. “We feel that, even with this present situation, there is water that can be made available to MCWD in Mananga... it’s just trapped underneath; it’s not too deep. You just have to remove the cover.”

She said the heavy siltation at the Luyang River has also resulted in the river not being able to supply water to a treatment facility.

She said they discovered a deep pond at the mouth of a cave connected to an underground spring that serves as the source of the river’s water. They found 15 similar deep ponds along the waterway.

She said she ordered the clearing of eight resorts along the river after she issued a cease and order against these establishments.

Garcia ordered the deep ponds cleared of any obstruction to allow the water to flow easily to the river.

“We cannot even call this rechanneling because there is no path for the water to pass unimpeded and to reach the lower elevation of where the water intake is located. So, we have pushed it to the side and the contractor continues to work,”

She said the MCWD reported a water deficit of 60,000 cubic meters from its normal production of 301,000 cubic meters of water.

Garcia said these two rivers can provide up to 30,000 to 60,000 cubic meters of water supply daily.

However, recent data showed that the Mananga can only produce about 6,000 cubic meters of water daily. / EHP

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