The Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) enjoins all local government units (LGUs) to take precautionary measures to mitigate the impact of La Niña amid the COVID-19 pandemic, following forecasts that there is a 70 to 80% chance of La Niña forming in the last quarter of 2021.
According to the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA), La Niña may emerge in October 2021 and may persist until the first quarter of 2022. Rainfall forecasts also suggest a higher probability of above-normal rainfall conditions in many areas of the country in the next several months.
DILG Secretary Eduardo M. Año directed all LGUs to ensure that all preparedness measures are undertaken in anticipation of the looming La Niña amidst the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We always have to be preemptive instead of reactive in disaster response, which is why as early as now we encourage LGUs to convene their respective Local Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Councils (LDRRMCs), conduct La Niña pre-disaster risk assessment (PDRA), and update their local contingency plans or La Niña action plans for Hydrometeorological Hazards,” he said.
“LGUs are also encouraged to engage the participation of Local Health Officers to ensure that critical COVID-19 prevention protocols are already integrated,” he added.
The DILG Secretary also urged all LGUs to assess the structural integrity and capacity of vital facilities, especially those being used as evacuation centers, vaccination centers, and multi-purpose buildings, LIGTAS-COVID centers, health centers, and hospitals for COVID-19 cases.
He reminded LGUs to ensure unhampered logistics flow and supply chain management.
On top of these preparations, LGUs are urged to conduct a monthly assessment and ensure top shape functionality, in collaboration with the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) Regional Offices, of all established Early-Warning Systems (EWS).
The DILG further enjoins LGUs to closely coordinate with other relevant agencies, such as PAGASA, Department of Environment and Natural Resources - Mines and Geosciences Bureau (DENR-MGB), and Department of Health (DOH).
In an advisory, DILG Undersecretary Bernardo Florece Jr. urged LGUs to establish early preparedness actions guided by the Operation L!STO Disaster Preparedness Manual for City and Municipal LGUs.
“The latest and enhanced version of the manual contains a foolproof preparedness checklist on the ‘things-to-do’ before, during, and after a disaster strikes at the local level, not only for city and municipal mayors, DILG field officers, chiefs of police (COPS) and fire marshals but also for provincial governors,” he said.
LGUs are encouraged to implement other policy directives as applicable such as the Operation L!STO Protocols for Hydrometeorological Hazards, and other related issuances.
Aside from LGUs, families are encouraged to prepare their household for disasters through the Gabay at Mapa para sa Listong Pamilyang Pilipino, which requires families to make a household plan determining their evacuation routes, family meeting points, and safe places in their home.
“Disaster preparedness must begin in our homes, which is why in Listong Pamilyang Pilipino, families are advised to prepare their e-Balde, or Emergency Balde, which contains essential items to be brought during an evacuation, such as ready-to-eat food, three gallons of water, medicine, first-aid and hygiene kits, clothes, flashlights, and radios,” Florece said.