Senator Win Gatchalian has filed a resolution seeking an inquiry into the government’s readiness to mitigate the impact of the El Niño phenomenon that will likely persist until the first quarter of next year.
During his second State of the Nation Address, President Bongbong Marcos emphasized the importance of addressing the impact of the El Niño weather phenomenon. He mentioned that the government is currently implementing efforts, including cloud seeding, to counter its effects.
Gatchalian’s resolution, Senate Resolution No. 691, was also prompted by the declaration made by the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Service Administration (PAGASA) of the onset of El Niño. Its potential consequences on inflation due to reduced food production and potentially higher electricity prices could exacerbate poverty levels.
“Dahil sa perwisyo ng El Niño na nararanasan na natin ngayon, maaari din nitong pataasin ang presyo ng mga bilihin tulad ng pagkain, pati na ng kuryente,” said Gatchalian.
“There is an urgent need to assess the capability of concerned government agencies and determine the planned interventions to mitigate the impact of El Niño. The entire Philippine government should be prepared to cushion the detrimental effects of the El Niño phenomenon on the country’s food, energy, and economic security,” he emphasized.
The weather phenomenon could diminish the agriculture sector’s contribution to the country’s gross domestic product (GDP). Based on a 2019 World Bank report, recurring El Niño occurrences in the country are estimated to cause national GDP losses ranging from -0.29% to -1.57% and agricultural GDP losses between -1.73% and -6.9%, Gatchalian said.
Had El Niño emerged in 2022, it could have translated to estimated losses of P57.84 billion to P313.11 billion in national GDP and between P30.85 billion and P124.31 billion in the agricultural sector’s GDP, based on the country’s economic data.
According to Gatchalian, previous El Niño occurrences brought drought nationwide and water supply shortages due to lower-than-average rainfall in the country, greatly affecting farmers who rely heavily on rainfall for their livelihood.
The El Niño weather aberration is characterized by the abnormal warming of sea surface temperature in the central and eastern equatorial Pacific Ocean that causes prolonged episodes of drought and lower-than-average rainfall in some areas. The phenomenon occurs anywhere between 2 to 7 years and may last up to 18 months.