Province to monitor crop yield, water supply

Cebu-map
Cebu-map

GOV. Gwendolyn Garcia has withheld declaring a state of calamity in Cebu Province to address the effects of the high heat index.

In a press conference on Monday, April 8, 2024, Garcia said the Provincial Government is monitoring the situation across all local government units (LGUs) in its jurisdiction, including studying the crop yield and water supply.

She assured farmers and fisherfolk that they are insured under the Philippine Crop Insurance Corp.

“Damage to crops will be compensated accordingly,” Garcia said.

“As of now, we will watch and study the situation very carefully. We will assist where we can assist and we will make a decision when we have to make a decision,” Garcia added.

SunStar Cebu tried to secure data on crop production in the province, but the Provincial Agriculture Office would not provide it without the approval of the Office of the Governor.

Localized problem

The governor pointed out that the water supply problem is evident only in Cebu City.

She said the Province has a joint venture deal with a Manila-based water firm to extract water from the Luyang River in the northern town of Carmen which is supplied to the Metropolitan Cebu Water District (MCWD).

On April 3, the MCWD reported a deficit in water production due to the El Niño phenomenon. This has resulted in consumers complaining about low water pressure or no water supply, particularly in elevated and interior areas.

Garcia said she called all City and Municipal Risk Reduction and Management Offices under the Province’s jurisdiction to strengthen preventive measures to mitigate the effects of the drought, such as fire incidents.

A grass fire broke out in the hinterlands of the southern town of Oslob late Saturday night, April 6, affecting up to 70 hectares of land in Barangays Poblacion, Cañang, Calumpang and Daan Lungsod.

“To see to it that everyone is reminded of the risk of flammable materials that were normally, dili unta. This precisely because of abnormally high-temperature indices,” Garcia said.

No letup

The weather bureau Pagasa announced on Tuesday that high temperatures during the day will persist despite scattered rains experienced at night.

Jhomer Eclarino of the Regional Services Division of Pagasa Visayas said the rains are passing and are influenced by the easterlies.

Easterlies are eastward-blowing trade winds common in tropical regions like the Philippines, bringing warm, humid weather and occasional rain showers.

“There’s a chance of passing light rains, but the weather will continue to be hot,” he said in Cebuano.

At 1 p.m. on Tuesday, Cebu recorded a heat index of 37 degrees Celsius. The figure is under the extreme caution classification, which is between 32 and 41 degrees Celsius, and can cause heat cramps and exhaustion and may also lead to a heat stroke.

The heat index or “feels-like” temperature combines air temperature and humidity to indicate how hot the weather feels to the human body.

Advice

So far this year, Eclarino said, the highest heat index recorded in Cebu was 39 degrees Celsius last March 27.

He encouraged the public to always adhere to precautionary and preventive measures for health safety.

Earlier, Pagasa said the temperature is hottest between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m., but the Department of Health (DOH) 7 suggested avoiding the outdoors as early as 9 a.m.

Last month, Dr. Eugenia Mercedes Cañal, regional epidemiologist, set measures for the public to follow this summer amid the El Niño.

Aside from avoiding the outdoors during peak hours when the heat index is at its highest, she also recommended wearing sunscreen outside and emphasized the importance of staying hydrated by drinking plenty of water.

SunStar Cebu earlier reported that the heat index in Cebu may reach a “dangerous” 51 degrees Celsius in the coming months.

Eclarino said historical data shows Cebu typically experiences its highest temperatures in May.

On May 31, 2010, also during an El Niño, the province recorded surface temperature at 37 degrees Celsius and its highest heat index at 49 degrees Celsius.

Eclarino attributed the high heat index to the El Niño phenomenon.

Cebu and nine other provinces in the Visayas region are currently designated as experiencing drought.

The other provinces are Antique, Biliran, Eastern Samar, Guimaras, Iloilo, Leyte, Negros Oriental, Negros Occidental and Samar.

Eclarino said a drought is characterized by an extended dry spell, either with five consecutive months of below-normal rainfall or three months of significantly reduced rainfall.

Pagasa defines below-normal rainfall as 20 to 60 percent less than the usual amount, while way-below-normal rainfall indicates a decrease of more than 60 percent from the norm. / EHP, KJF

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