April 8, 2016
MANILA, Philippines – North Cotabato is among the 32 provinces in the country that will continue to experience drought until the end of the month, the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical, and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) said Thursday.
Aside from North Cotabato, latest climate outlook data of the PAGASA’s Climate Monitoring and Prediction Section (CLIMPS) showed other provinces include Pangasinan, Nueva Ecija, Tarlac, Zambales, Occidental Mindoro, and Palawan in Luzon; Negros Oriental, Bohol, and Siquijor in Visayas; Zamboanga del Norte, Zamboanga del Sur, Zamboanga Sibugay, Bukidnon, Camiguin, Lanao del Norte, Misamis Occidental, Misamis Oriental, Compostela Valley, Davao del Norte, Davao del Sur, South Cotabato, Sarangani, Sultan Kudarat, Agusan del Norte, Agusan del Sur, Surigao del Norte, Basilan, Maguindano, Lanao Del Sur, Sulu, and Tawi-tawi in Mindanao.
Annaliza Solis, senior weather specialist of PAGASA-CLIMPS, noted that the said drought condition was assessed using the observed rainfall amount from November 2015 to March 2016 and forecast rainfall of April 2016.
By end of the month, Solis said about 40 percent of the country was predicted to experience drought associated with the prevailing El Niño event.
She noted that the El Niño, which is characterized by below-average rainfall, continued to gradually weaken and will likely end by July.
North Cotabato had reportedly loss almost P1 billion due to drought, which PAGASA described as three consecutive months of way below normal rainfall condition.
Last month, the provincial agriculture office’s information division said crop loss from lack of rains has already hit P989 million and affected more than 25,000 farmers.
It noted that even banana and cacao plantations and vegetable gardens were also not spared.
According to Solis, North Cotabato was initially put in the list of provinces to experience dry spell last October.
PAGASA defined dry spell as three consecutive months of below normal rainfall condition.
Solis said rainfall condition in the province further worsened this year.
Last January, she said PAGASA placed North Cotabato among provinces seen to suffer from drought.
“Makikita mo dito na since last year pa lang ay kulang na talaga ang nakukuhang ulan ng probinsiya at lumala pa ito ngayong taon dahil mas mababa pa sa below normal rainfall ang kanilang nai-experience,” she noted.
Last week, more than 4,000 farmers in North Cotabato came to demand government assistance after drought hit their farms.
But instead of delivering aid, police stormed the protesters’ barricade in Kidapawan City and opened fire, killing two persons and wounding more than 40 others.