Teodoro preps task force amid La Niña watch

Teodoro preps task force amid La Niña watch

/ 05:30 AM May 20, 2024

Teodoro preps task force amid La Niña watch

Defense Sec. Gilberto Teodoro Jr. —Department of National Defense FB

MANILA, Philippines — Defense Secretary Gilberto Teodoro Jr. has warned that the government will crack down hard on hoarders and price manipulators as the country braces for the coming La Niña weather phenomenon that could wreak havoc on agriculture and disrupt transportation and services.

Teodoro, who also chairs the government’s Task Force El Niño, issued the warning after the fifth meeting of the presidential task force for the preparations for La Niña held early this month, the Department of National Defense (DND) said on Sunday.


Teodoro stressed the need to intensify price and supply monitoring efforts to protect consumers from those who may take advantage of the weather phenomenon to jack up the prices of key commodities. He committed to helping the Department of Trade and Industry and the Department of Agriculture (DA) keep prices and supply steady.


READ: Central Luzon braces for La Niña even as dry spell still rages

“Access to affordable basic commodities such as rice is exceptionally crucial to millions of Filipino consumers. Any sudden fluctuation in the price of rice resonates [in] the daily lives of Filipinos,” he said.

On March 7, the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (Pagasa) raised its La Niña Watch in the country.

READ: Mitigating El Niño, La Niña impact

La Niña (little girl in Spanish), is a weather phenomenon with the opposite effect of El Niño, wherein trade winds are more potent than usual, pushing more warm water and increased rainfall toward the Asian region, thus raising the risks of floods and landslides in vulnerable areas.

Increased rainfall may cause extensive damage to agriculture and upset supply chains, as heavy rain and floods will make it more difficult to transport produce from the farms to the market. Unscrupulous traders may then take advantage of these forces to inflate their selling prices.


Neutral condition

According to the weather bureau, the transition from the current El Niño to La Niña is already underway and may shift to a neutral condition—when there is neither El Niño nor La Niña—around June, then switch to La Niña by July.

The predevelopment signs of the La Niña weather phenomenon feature a below-normal rainfall outlook, while Pagasa added that the normal onset of the rainy season may be delayed with the current El Niño to around the middle of June.

Pagasa has not yet identified the provinces that would be most affected by La Niña. But once it fully sets in, the country will experience more destructive typhoons caused by stronger winds and heavier rains, according to Analiza Solis, head of Pagasa’s climatology and agrometeorology division.

Solis also said they were expecting fewer typhoons to make landfall this year, but warned that the lead time to prepare for any typhoon could be shorter since weather disturbances might form nearer the Philippine landmass.

Solis forecasts between 13 and 16 typhoons for 2024, below the annual average of 19 to 20.


Given the expected impact of these weather phenomena, President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. ordered the reactivation and reconstitution of Task Force El Niño in January through Executive Order No. 53.

Marcos recognized in the EO that the weather phenomenon “calls for the implementation of both short- and long-term solutions to ensure food, water, and energy security, safeguard livelihoods, and improve the country’s disaster and climate resilience.”

The EO directs the task force to develop a comprehensive disaster preparedness and rehabilitation plan for El Niño and La Niña to provide “systematic, holistic and results-driven interventions” to help the public cope with and minimize their devastating effects.

According to the EO, the secretary of the DND will be the chair of the task force, while the secretary of the Department of Science and Technology will serve as cochair.

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Members of the task force include secretaries of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, DA, the Department of Health, and the National Economic and Development Authority. —with a report from Inquirer Research

TAGS: DND, La Niña Watch, Task Force El Niño

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