NegOcc guv rejects calamity declaration for cloud seeding

By Dolly Yasa

BACOLOD CITY – Amid the harsh El Niño weather affecting Negros Occidental’s sugarcane farms, Governor Eugenio Jose Lacson remains steadfast against declaring a state of calamity solely for purchasing aircraft for cloud seeding.

In a recent statement, Lacson addressed concerns from the United Negros Alliance of Sugar Planters Federations (UNIFED) president Manuel Lamata and the broader agricultural community, citing expert advice against the efficacy of cloud seeding in current conditions.

“Not yet,” was Lacson’s concise response when prompted by reporters on Lamata’s public appeal for urgent action to mitigate the adverse effects on crops, particularly in the province’s south.

Lamata’s call to declare a state of calamity was intended to facilitate immediate cloud seeding operations to induce rain, stressing that “The sugar industry needs rain now.”

He also highlighted the necessity for long-term strategies, advocating for proactive support for Negros Island in future similar scenarios.

However, Lacson pointed out practical concerns about acquiring an aircraft, emphasizing the costs of purchase, maintenance, and the likelihood of numerous requests for complimentary use.

“You must remember El Niño is not a regular occurrence,” Lacson added, hinting at the impracticality of investing in a plane for an intermittent event.

Instead, the governor indicated the possibility of renting an aircraft for such purposes, a more financially prudent approach, underscoring that the province still has funds to deploy without resorting to a calamity declaration.

The issue of cloud seeding was also taken up by representatives Mercedes Alvarez-Lansang of the 6th district and Atty. Dino Yulo of the 5th district, who previously advocated for the measure to relieve the sector from El Niño’s severe consequences.

Governor Lacson’s stance reflects a measured approach to the crisis, balancing immediate needs with the fiscal responsibility required to manage the province’s resources effectively.

The agricultural sector, pivotal to the region’s economy, continues to seek solutions as the El Niño phenomenon challenges the resilience of local farming communities.