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Duterte reactivates El Niño Task Force 

MANILA, Philippines — President Rodrigo Duterte has reactivated the government’s El Niño Task Force to mitigate the effects of the dry spell in the Philippines.

Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea, by authority of the President, signed Memorandum Order No. 38  on August 13, “reactivating and reconstituting” the task force formed in 2001 under former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.

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Under his order, Duterte said that “current climate models of the DOST-Pagasa suggest that there is a 75 percent probability that the El Niño phenomenon will persist from June until August 2019.”

“[T]he recurrence of the El Niño phenomenon calls for the implementation of both short and long-term solutions to ensure food, water and energy security, safeguard livelihood, and improve the country’s disaster and climate resilience,” the memorandum read.

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Economic Secretary Ernesto Pernia will be the overall head of the task force. The agriculture secretary will be the head for food security, the environment secretary for water security, energy secretary for power security, health secretary for health and the interior secretary for safety concerns.

Members of the task force include the science and technology secretary, defense secretary, social welfare secretary, labor secretary, trade secretary, communications secretary, chairperson of the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council, Technical Education and Skills Development Authority director-general, Office of the Civil Defense administrator, National Food Authority administrator, National irrigation Authority administrator, Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration chief.

The memorandum ordered the task force to revise and update the Roadmap for Addressing the Impacts of El Niño (RAIN), the implementation of short and long-term solutions and programs identified on the five critical areas of food security, water security, energy security, health, and safety.

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RAIN was crafted in 20015 after the task force reconvened in the same year.

It said the task force could ask the support of the Department of Foreign Affairs, Department of Tourism and all other government entities.

The task force, the memorandum said, should submit to the President through the Executive Secretary a monthly report on the implementation of the order.

The funding of the task force would be charged against existing appropriations of the member agencies of the task force, it added. /jpv

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