Residents line up with containers as they wait for water trucks in Mandaluyong, Manila, on Wednesday. Associated Press
By Manolo B. Jara
MANILA: Crop losses from Filipino farmers arising from the long dry spell or drought have soared to more than $20 million in just nine provinces and three cities in the Visayas and Mindanao even as residents continued to complain they have to join long lines in many areas of the country just to get their share of potable water.
One of the worst hit was the province of Cotabato in Mindanao, a major producter of rice and corn, where crop damage even before the start of the summer seasonj was to be declared and already reached $7 million, reports reaching the Department of Agriculture said.
The other provinces with heavy crop damages estimated $1 milliion included Occidental Mindoro in Southern Luzon, Pangasinan in Northern Luzon and Maguindanao in strife-torn Mindanao.
Earlier, state weathermen warned that about 19 provinces would be hit hard by the El Nino weather phenomenon whose disastrous impact by the lack of rain is already being felt in wide areas of the country.
They predicted that the provinces were likely to feel warmer weather over the next few months, 19 of which are expected to experience drought while one might be hit by a prolonged dry spell.
Weathermen defined dry spell as at least three cnsecutive months of 21 to 60 percent reduction in rainfall while drought is characterized by either reduced chance or rainfall for three consecutive months or a dry spell that lastsd for five consecutive months.
Residents of Metro Manila, composed of 15 cities and one town with a total population of 12 million have complained that potable water was not available to them at their homes for the last few days and had join long lines to get their supply from fire trucks.
In suburban Pasig City in Metro Manila, for instance, the state run Rizal Medical Center announced they were forced to limit the admission of their patients due to lack of water that threatend their operations. Officials in Mandaluyong City, also in Metro Manila, warned they might be forced to suspend classes in many of the public schools due to lack of water to help them maintain sanitation and cleanliness.
But it seems they were not alone, based on the complaint of Gertrudes Macapili, a mother of four and a public school teacher who said water rationing was making her unproductive in Zamboanga City in Mindanao.