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Most Filipinos not deeply concerned about drought: 2017 Study

by UNTV News   |   Posted on Friday, March 22nd, 2019

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

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2 Neg Occ towns under state of calamity due to drought

by UNTV News   |   Posted on Tuesday, April 16th, 2019

Hectares of dried-up rice fields affected by 2019 El Niño

A state of calamity was declared in Murcia and Isabela, Negros Occidental because of the severe effects of El Niño phenomenon.

80% of the rice field of A and G Esteban Farmers Association in Barangay San Miguel, Murcia, Negros Occidental is affected by El Niño phenomenon.

The president of the association Rosie Alit said they had no choice but to feed the affected crops to their buffaloes because they no longer have a use for it.

“Hindi na iyan namin mapapakinabangan basta nasa booting stage at milking ang matamaan sa palay wala nang pag-asa, hindi na iyan maka-recover, (We no longer have any use of it. As long as booting stage and milking [stage] were affected in the crops, there is no hope to save it.)” she said.

In the country, around 30 areas, which include 5 provinces and 25 cities/municipalities, are under a state of calamity due to the effects of El Niño.

READ: Albay under state of calamity due to El Niño

Agricultural damage brought by the severe drought reached to over P5 billion with more than 164,000 farmers affected.

The Department of Agriculture (DA) already began their cloud seeding operation in affected areas.—Aileen Cerrudo (with reports from Lalaine Moreno)

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Filipinos in Sudan urged to ‘exercise caution’ amid political unrest

by UNTV News and Rescue   |   Posted on Friday, April 12th, 2019

Protesters take to the streets of central Khartoum demanding military leaders to hand over power to civilians. | Photo credit: Reuters

MANILA–The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) on Thursday (April 11) called on overseas Filipino workers in Sudan “to exercise caution in light of the uncertainty caused by the current political crisis” in the said country.

“The Department echoes the call of the Philippine Embassy in Cairo for Filipinos in Khartoum to avoid crowded areas and stay inside their homes while the protests are ongoing,” the DFA said in an advisory.

For emergency assistance, the agency also urges Filipinos to contact the Philippine Embassy in Cairo through +202-252-13062 or the Philippine Honorary Consulate in Khartoum through the numbers +249-183-468717 or +249-183-468716.

They may also reach the embassy through its Facebook Page, the “Philippine Embassy in Egypt.”

Sudan’s President Omar al-Bashir was overthrown in a military coup on Thursday (April 11), marking the end of his 30-long-years of autocracy.

But protesters’ jubilation was short-lived as they took to the streets of central Khartoum demanding military leaders to hand over power to civilians.

Sudan’s Ministry of Defense said the country would enter a two-year period of military rule to be followed by presidential elections.

Following Bashir’s ouster, Sudan’s Defense Ministry announced a state of emergency, a nationwide ceasefire and the suspension of the constitution.

A curfew has also been imposed. – Marje Pelayo

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SWS: 4 of 10 Filipinos doubt China’s intention towards PH

by UNTV News   |   Posted on Tuesday, April 9th, 2019

FILE PHOTO: A child holds national flags of China and the Philippines before President of the Philippines Rodrigo Duterte and China’s President Xi Jinping attend a welcoming ceremony at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, China, October 20, 2016. REUTERS/Thomas Peter

MANILA, Philippines – A recent survey conducted by the Social Weather Stations (SWS) revealed that 4 out of 10 Filipinos do not believe that China’s intention towards the Philippines is beneficial to Filipinos.

The survey, fielded in December 2018 among 1,440 respondents, found that 44 percent of Filipino adults disagreed with the statement: “Most of what the Chinese government wants to happen in the Philippines is good for the Filipinos.”

22 percent said they strongly agree with the statement while 29 percent “somewhat disagreed,” the SWS survey findings stated.

The survey results were released amid reports about the influx of Chinese workers in the Philippines, loan deals between the Manila and Beijing and the long-standing dispute in the West Philippine Sea.

Malacañang on Monday slammed the recent SWS survey, branding it as “political propaganda” employed by the Duterte administration’s ardent critics and detractors.

Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo expressed hope that more Filipinos would appreciate the relation between the Philippines and China once they see its positive effects on the economy.

Panelo also added that Filipinos must understand that the government’s move to diversify the country’s allies is intended for the sole benefit of the Filipino people and not for any foreign race.   

“We are seeing that there would be a change of hearts and minds from those undecided and even those who disagree—whom we believe are used to the United States as our long-standing ally—once our enhanced ties with China start to yield positive economic results,” Panelo said in a statement.

In line with SWS recent survey, the UNTV News and Rescue went around to ask some Filipinos about their thoughts on whether China’s intentions are good for the Philippines.

Of the 10 individuals interviewed on the street by the UNTV news team, 8 have expressed doubt about the warming ties between Manila and Beijing.

Most of the interviewees expressed fear that China will invade the Philippines, in reference to reports about Chinese vessels that “swarmed” near disputed waters in the West Philippine Sea, bullying local fishermen against entering the resource-rich lagoons.

The other two expressed neutrality on the issue, saying China has helped the country in some ways such as trading, investments and financing some of the government’s infrastructure projects.

Professor Jay Batongbacal, Director of the University of the Philippines Institute for Maritime Affairs and Law of the Sea, offered his view on why some Filipinos continue to distrust China despite President Rodrigo Duterte’s high praises for his newfound ally.

“China had a huge trust deficit to begin with, ever since. Recent controversies have probably magnified that lack of trust and fuels suspicions about China’s intentions despite its constant attempts to portray then as otherwise,” he said.

“Government’s tendency to bend over in defending China aggravates the distrust and suspicion even more,” he added.

Duterte has recently told China to back off from Pag-asa Island and vowed to never allow China to occupy the island long-held by the Philippines.

READ: Duterte tells China: Back off from Pag-asa island

Duterte’s rare remark against Beijing came after the Philippine military warned that hundreds of Chinese vessels were spotted in the disputed waterway in the first quarter of 2019.

The President, however, assured he is prepared to reach for a compromise with China and that there is no need for the Philippines to use force against its more powerful neighbor. – Robie de Guzman (with details from Nel Maribojoc)

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