Pasig Rep. Roman Romulo today asked how government will spend the P19.2 billion budget approved last month by President Aquino to mitigate the negative impact of El Niño on farmers and consumers.
"What's the plan? Where will the money be spent?," he asked. "All we know from reports quoting NEDA chief Arsenio Balisacan is that there is a budget and that government is preparing for a worst-case scenario that may arise from this Godzilla El Niño threat."
Romulo pointed out that PAGASA has warned that as much as 85 percent of the country, comprising of 68 provinces, will suffer by April, a "meteorological drought" caused by El Niño. Twelve other provinces in Luzon and Mindanao will experience a dry spell.
It is expected to peak between March and May this year, the state weather agency said. El Niño is a weather phenomenon that develops in the Pacific Ocean that is a result of the warming of sea temperatures.
"A consensus of climate models shows that it will likely strengthen further...and May last until the first half of 2016. This 2015-2016 El Niño event will potentially be four strongest events since 1950 (1972-1973, 1982-1983, 1997-1998)," PAGASA said.
Already, Zamboanga City has began water rationing because its rivers and main reservoir are drying up.
In a report in October, the HSBC Global Research warned that a prolonged dry spell might also lead to higher inflation and force the Bangko Sentral to "hike rates sooner than expected."
"The least the government should do is inform the people in areas already affected by El Niño about the interventions being done to help them so they can avail of these assistance," Romulo said.