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A looming crisis

We have been told by scientists that a severe El Niño weather phenomenon will hit the country latter part of the year to the first half of next year.

To be sure, the Philippines is no stranger to extreme weather events. We’ve seen the worst of both the dry and wet seasons. We’ve picked ourselves up every time, being known for our resilience.

But that we’re used to things does not mean we should sit back and watch them happen to us.

El Niño has a toll: in lives, in damaged crops and infrastructure, in foregone opportunities and unrealized potential. Already, water service in some parts of Metro Manila is being interrupted because of low water levels at the Angat Dam. Blackouts in many parts of the country, especially in Mindanao, will occur more often and for longer periods.

Farmers will have to deal with less harvest, which would affect their income.

We may not be able to do anything about its actual onset— some things are beyond our control. But we can anticipate its effects and minimize the damage it would cost.

Alas, the onset of the El Niño would coincide with the filing of the certificates of candidacy at the national level. In fact, at this time, our officials are already expending much—if not all—of their time and energy ensuring that voters know who they are and that they stand a chance at victory.

Worse, we have an administration with a sterling track record for reacting to problems only when these have reached crisis proportions and when public opinion has turned strongly against it.

The traffic and the train issues are just two examples. Have these not become sore points among the traveling public especially since President Aquino has had the gall to attempt positive spins to these problems? What economic growth? What greater purchasing power?

The supposedly straight path-treading administration only has a few months to show the people it can actually deal with a problem as vast and far-reaching as El Niño. This time around, it would be difficult to put a positive spin to its occurrence, just as it is impossible to control its coming and going.

There’s a looming crisis, and it won’t be looming for long. We need concrete action in mitigating El Niño’s effects—no lofty promises and tough talk will cut it anymore.

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