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Updated: 5 min 54 sec ago

Philippines: Government prepared to cushion impact of 'El Niño'

22 March 2015 - 11:55am
Source: Government of the Philippines Country: Philippines

MANILA, March 22 -- Government is prepared and is taking the necessary steps to cushion the effects of weather phenomenon El Niño in the country, a Malacañang official assured on Saturday.

Deputy, Presidential Spokesperson Abigail Valte in an interview on government-run radio station dzRB Radyo ng Bayan said the Department of Agriculture is on top of the preparations.

“Pagdating po sa preparations, at least for the El Niño, siyempre, una po ang DA natin diyan—ang Department of Agriculture,” Valte said.

“Kasi ang importante po sa atin ay masigurado ang patuloy na pag-supply ng tubig, irigasyon doon sa ating mga crops, lalo na sa mga area na tinatamaan po nito, at alam ko namang nakikipag-usap na rin po ang mga regional na NIA (National Irrigation Administration) natin para naman matulungan ang mga kababayan natin doon,” she said.

State weather bureau, Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) earlier confirmed that the country is currently experiencing a mild case of El Niño.

In an earlier statement, Department of Agriculture (DA) Secretary Proceso Alcala said although El Niño is here, “we are prepared, it will not turn out to be the sum of all of our fears.”

Secretary Alcala has already directed all DA regional offices, concerned bureaus and attached agencies nationwide to prepare for the impact of the weather phenomenon.

The Agriculture secretary has also called on farmers and the public to conserve water as a precautionary measure in case the country experiences a prolonged dry spell. (PCOO/PND (co)

Philippines: NDRRMC Update Incident Monitored Covering the Period 21080H-212000H, March 2015

22 March 2015 - 11:51am
Source: Government of the Philippines Country: Philippines
  1. Internally Displaced Persons in Matalam Municipality, Cotabato Province due to Armed Conflict between MILF and Barangay Peace-Keeping Action Team.

Philippines: Philippines to let displaced residents return after fighting eases

22 March 2015 - 10:27am
Source: Agence France-Presse Country: Philippines

Manila, Philippines | | Sunday 3/22/2015 - 08:02 GMT

Some of the 120,000 people displaced by the Philippine army's offensive against Muslim insurgents will soon be allowed to return home now that violence has eased, a spokeswoman said Sunday.

"We will determine which areas will be safe for evacuees to go back, areas already cleared of the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF)," said the regional military spokeswoman Captain Joan Petinglay.

The military in the troubled southern province of Maguindanao on Mindanao island in February launched an all-out operation against the BIFF, a small insurgent group fighting to set up an Islamic state in the south of the largely Christian Philippines.

It rejects a peace pact signed by the much larger Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) from which the BIFF split.

The UN refugee agency has warned that more than 120,000 people have fled their homes in the south due to the fighting.

The government has housed many of them in schools, hampering educational activities.

Since the operation began, the BIFF -- which originally numbered about 300 -- has lost an estimated 140 of its fighters although the military has only recovered five of their bodies, Petinglay said.

Six soldiers have also been killed, she added.

There has been no new fighting since Monday, possibly indicating the BIFF has been weakened by its losses, Petinglay said.

Petinglay said the government and private relief organisations had enough supplies for displaced people, but some of them would soon be allowed to return home now that the situation was stabilising.

Islamic separatist insurgencies in the south have claimed tens of thousands of lives since the 1970s.

Although the MILF has signed an initial peace deal, a bungled police raid has left the peace process in jeopardy

A total of 44 police commandos hunting some of the country's most wanted extremists were killed on January 25 when they entered a Maguindanao stronghold of the BIFF and other Muslim armed groups.

The incident has become an embarrassment to President Benigno Aquino, who has been blamed for poor leadership and coordination of the operation.