Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos Jr lays out plans to mitigate effects of looming El Niño

2023 April 24

MANILA – The government has stepped up efforts to convert the country’s dependence of water supply from underground water to surface water, President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. said Monday.

The President made the comment in an interview with former Social Welfare Secretary Erwin Tulfo, stressing the need for different government agencies to make the necessary preparations to address the looming dry spell or El Niño phenomenon.

“Kasi tubig ang pinag-uusapan, marami talagang elemento na kailangan isama diyan sa usapan na ‘yan (Because we are talking about water, there are many elements that need to be included in that talk). But we are slowly converting our dependence of water supply from underground water to surface water. ‘Yun ang pinaka-basic diyan (That’s the most basic) and then the distribution systems,” Marcos told Tulfo’s radio program in the government-owned Radyo Pilipinas.

‘Yung ating mga…kung pupuntahan mo ‘yung mga distribution system natin sa mga water authority, kung titingnan mo ‘yung mga ano, noong giyera pa nilagay ‘yung ano… noong panahon pa ng giyera eh noong nilagay ‘yung mga tubo-tubo eh (If you go to our distribution system of our water authorities, the pipes were installed during the war),” the President pointed out.

Marcos, who recently signed an executive order creating a Water Management Office (WMO), said the government platform will help deal with the country’s water crisis.

“So… ganun ang approach namin na kailangan na magkaroon ng sapat na supply ng malinis, ligtas na tubig na kahit pag masyadong mahina ang ulan o nagka-El Niño, masyadong mainit ay magkakaroon tayo ng… mayroon pa rin tayong water supply (Our approach is to have enough supply of clean, safe water that even if the rain is scarce or El Niño occurs, we still have water supply),” he said.

He said the government has ramped up its alert and warning systems to provide El Niño forecasts and impacts.

“Kaya’t, ‘yun isa pa ‘yan, pinapatibay natin ang kakayahan ng DOST (Department of Science and Technology), ng PAGASA (Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration) para ma-warningan naman talaga tayo nang mabuti na may parating na ganito (We have strengthened the capacity of DOST, PAGASA so that we get accurate warning that this thing is coming),” he said.

In a previous sectoral briefing, Marcos tasked agencies to come up with a whole-of-government strategy to address the El Niño phenomenon that may hit the country this year until early next year.

Two specific instructions given by the President are the adoption of a whole-of-government or whole-of-nation approach and putting up protocol-based and scientific long-term processes that could be adopted by the country.