Dry spell triggers Blue Alert in WV

The dry season exacerbated by the  El Niño phenomenon has triggered the Blue Alert status in Western Visayas effective April 23. (Francis Allan L. Angelo photo)

By Joseph Bernard A. Marzan

The Regional Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (RDRRMC) of Western Visayas has declared a Blue Alert status effective Tuesday, April 23, amid the ongoing El Niño phenomenon, which has led several local government units (LGUs) to proclaim a state of calamity.

Raul Fernandez, Office of Civil Defense-Region 6 (OCD-6) director and RDRRMC chairperson, signed Memorandum Order No. 25, series of 2024, following a meeting with the Regional El Niño Team on April 22.

The order responds to notably reduced rainfall and its detrimental effects on regional water supplies, especially in Antique, Capiz, Guimaras, Iloilo, and Negros Occidental.

The Blue Alert activates five key RDRRMC clusters—Logistics, Law and Order, Food and Non-Food, Health, and Education—to streamline emergency responses and relief operations.

This status also grants access to Quick Response Funds as permitted under Republic Act No. 10121, also known as the Philippine Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Act of 2010.

Fernandez shared with Daily Guardian that OCD-6 has reserved P2.5 million for emergencies, with additional support available from the national office through the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council.

Detailing cluster responsibilities, the OCD-6-led Logistics cluster will handle transportation and logistical needs, while the Department of the Interior and Local Government will spearhead the Law and Order cluster, focusing on crime prevention and fire response.

The Department of Social Welfare and Development will continue distributing family food packs as head of the Food and Non-Food cluster.

Meanwhile, the Department of Health will monitor heat- and drought-related illnesses, and the Department of Education will protect students.

The calamity declarations at the local level prompted the regional alert. As of April 19, one province (Antique) and five municipalities (Buenavista and San Lorenzo in Guimaras, Estancia and Sara in Iloilo, and San Enrique in Negros Occidental) have declared states of calamity.

Initially, five of these towns had already declared their own states of calamity due to the drought.

Despite agriculture losses exceeding P770.59 million, Fernandez noted that only the president could declare a regional state of calamity, a decision beyond the jurisdiction of OCD-6.