Most Filipinos not deeply concerned about drought: 2017 Study

Robie de Guzman   •   March 22, 2019   •   1949

MANILA, Philippines — A study by the Harvard Humanitarian Initiative (HHI) DisasterNet Philippines has reported that Filipinos show varying levels of concern about drought.

The study, conducted in 2017 with 4,368 respondents, found that most Filipinos do not feel deeply concerned about drought, despite experiencing it in the past.

A statement on the study made public last March 15 stated that only 12 percent of Filipinos reported feeling extremely concerned, 24 percent were concerned, 21 percent were somewhat concerned, 16 percent were a little concerned while 26 percent were not at all concerned of being affected by drought.

Since early March, parts of Metro Manila and Rizal province have been grappling with water shortage after concessionaire Manila Water experienced issues in its supply.

READ: Long queues, water recycling: How are Filipinos coping with water shortage?

Manila Water had previously cited the rapidly declining water level at the La Mesa Dam amid the prevailing weak El Niño phenomenon as among the reasons for the shortage, but it later admitted to a more complicated supply problem.

READ: MWSS Chief Regulator: Rising population, no new water source caused Manila Water’s supply shortage

But the 2017 study said that the lowest level of concern was reported in the National Capital Region (NCR) with only 11 percent while the highest was in Soccsksargen with 67 percent.

The HHI report also said that in regions and provinces which are already experiencing less rainfall in the last five months associated with the weak El Niño in the Pacific Ocean, less than half of each region’s population have expressed concern about the drought’s impact.

“In Zamboanga Peninsula, where Zamboanga del Sur and Zamboanga Sibugay have been experiencing drought since February 2019, only 25 percent were concerned about drought before the disaster,” the report stated.

“Zamboanga City, Zamboanga Sibugay and Pagadian City, which are also experiencing drought, have already been placed under state of calamity,” it added.

READ: Zamboanga city, 12 towns in North Cotabato under state of calamity due to dry spell

READ: 9 Provinces to experience drought-PAGASA

“In Northern Mindanao, where the provinces of Bukidnon and Misamis Oriental have already lost at least P292 million in agriculture this year due to the effects of El Niño, as reported by the Department of Agriculture (DA), 57 percent were concerned about drought before the disaster hit,” the study stated.

In Ilocos Region, where drought has hit Ilocos Norte Since February and a dry spell is likely in Ilocos Sur and La Union, 41 percent were concerned.

In Mimaropa, where Palawan and Occidental and Oriental Mindoro are also expected to be hit by drought, 47 percent have expressed concern.

Parts of Sulu and Maguindanao are also threatened by drought but the study said “only 39 percent” of the people in the now-defunct Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) “thought they will likely be affected.”

The Davao region, which experienced drought in 2016, has the second highest level of concern with 63 percent.

According to a data from the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA), the provinces of Palawan, Zamboanga del Sur, Maguindanao and Sulu had also been hit by drought in 2016, while Occidental Mindoro had experienced a dry spell.

The study noted that in terms of preparedness, a mere 2.4 percent of the country’s population reported having a plan for drought.

HHI’s study is the first nationwide household survey on disaster preparedness in the country.

PAGASA predicts this year’s weak El Niño may last until August. – Robie de Guzman

Protocols urged for evacuation of OFWs amid nCoV outbreak

Marje Pelayo   •   January 28, 2020

MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) on Monday (January 27) consulted with the Department of Health (DOH) on the establishment of health protocols for the evacuation of Filipinos from cities in China affected by novel coronavirus (nCoV) specifically in Wuhan City, the epicenter of the outbreak.

During the meeting, officials discussed potential measures to properly respond to health emergency prompted by the outbreak of nCoV in China and other countries.

Likewise, acting Foreign Affairs Secretary Eduardo Malaya raised the need to formulate further health advisories for Filipinos including DOH hotlines in each Philippine foreign service post in China to which they can call.

Meanwhile, Health Undersecretary Myrna Cabotaje advised Filipinos in virus-affected areas to exercise precaution by avoiding crowded places, using masks and gloves, as well as practicing proper hand washing and hygiene to reduce the risk of nCoV infection.

The DFA said it is continuously reaching out to Filipinos in China through Embassy and Consulate officials.

Meanwhile, the DOH clarified and maintained that there are no reports of any Filipino, here and abroad, affected by nCoV, so far.

Cimatu heads to the Middle East as forced evacuation of OFWs begins

Marje Pelayo   •   January 8, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – Environment Secretary Roy Cimatu is leaving for the Middle East on Thursday (January 9) to oversee the immediate repatriation of Filipinos there amid the escalating tension between the United States and Iran that is affecting all other Gulf states.

President Rodrigo Duterte reinstated Cimatu as the Philippine Special Envoy to the Middle East, his position under the Arroyo administration, being the most experienced when it comes to conflicts in the Gulf region.

In response to his recommendation, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) has raised crisis alert level 4 in Iraq which orders mandatory repatriation of all Filipinos living and working there.

Iraq holds a number of US military bases which are potential targets by Iranian retaliation following the death of Iran’s top military general Qassem Soleimani in an airstrike launched by the US.

“Pipilitin namin lalo na sa Iraq. Nagawa na namin ito kasi ayaw talaga nilang umalis. Hanggang sa ma-convince namin, (We will force them especially those in Iraq. We did this in the past because some Filipinos really refused to leave. (We will force them) until they are convinced,)” Cimatu said.

“(They assume, things are still okay.) They don’t know yet. This is a forced evacuation. We have to forced them really,” he added.

In a press briefing Wednesday (January 8), Cimatu confirmed that a total of 1,592 overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) volunteered for repatriation and are set to leave Iraq as soon as they are cleared to go.

They will be moved out of Baghdad to Jordan and from there, they will be transferred to Dubai where they can board their flights to the Philippines.

Cimatu is confident that the process of repatriation will succeed for the safe evacuation of Filipinos, especially those who will move by land.

They will make sure to put up Philippine flags for identification.

Cimatu said Dubai will be repatriation’s central logistic base since there are direct flights from Dubai to the Philippines.

From the Philippines, Cimatu will fly to Doha, Qatar before he attempts entry to Iraq to facilitate the evacuation of Filipinos there.

One concern, Cimatu said, is the situation of Filipinos who are married to Iranian nationals.

Cimatu said they are ready to assist Philippine passport holders but their Iranian spouses may only leave if their government allows them to.

The Philippines also has an existing ban of workers to Lebanon and repatriation has been ongoing since the start of the civil unrest there.

Secretary Cimatu assured that all Philippine posts in different gulf states have contingency plans in place in case alert level 4 is raised in their areas of jurisdiction. MNP (with details from Rey Pelayo)

Australia to cull thousands of wild camels as they search for water

UNTV News   •   January 8, 2020

Sydney — Australian authorities began culling at least 10,000 wild camels Wednesday whose overwhelming population has endangered communities in the desert region as they try to access water amid one of the worst droughts in the country’s history.

Aboriginal areas of the Anangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara (APY) reserve, “have been unable to manage the scale and number of camels that congregate in dry conditions,” according to a statement from the Department for Environment and Water of South Australia.

An APY executive committee statement said professional snipers teams would shoot the animals in an operation set to last at least five days.

Some 10,000 wild camels approach water sources used by the area’s aboriginal population and damage their infrastructure, endangering families and communities, as well as competing with cattle.

Many of these camels die of thirst or trample each other to access water, according to the statement from the South Australia environmental department.

“The dead animals have contaminated important water sources and cultural sites (which are important for the aboriginal community, as their spirituality is deeply linked to their sacred places),” it added.

APY Lands Manager Richard King told national broadcaster ABC that they would try to kill the camels when they approach water sources.

“It gives us an opportunity to get them while they’re all together, because generally they’ll go and move around the desert in smaller herds. So while they’re all together, it’s a great time to have a cull and clean out some of the animals that are destroying some of our native vegetation,” King said.

According to tracking portal CamelScan, there are about 1.2 million wild camels in Australia, and their population doubles every nine years. According to the portal, these animals live in a area spanning 3.3 million square kilometers and cause more than AU$10 million ($6.8 million) in yearly damages.

It is not the first time Australia kills animals such as camels and horses that aren’t endemic to the country and are often a threat to the ecosystem and native species, generally composed of smaller populations that include few carnivorous animals. EFE-EPA

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