By Zaldy De Layola

File photo

MANILA – Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) Secretary Rex Gatchalian on Tuesday presided over a video call meeting with the different field offices (FOs) to check on the preparedness of the regional directors and other concerned officials for the El Niño phenomenon.

Gatchalian assured the public that the agency has sufficient funds, as well as food and non-food items (FNFIs), that are ready for distribution to those who will be directly affected by the long dry spell of the looming El Niño.

During the online briefing, Gatchalian ensured that funds and other relief items are properly positioned in all DSWD warehouses, which are readily available for immediate disposal to any local government units (LGUs) in need.

All the regional directors and officers who attended the video conference, which was co-presided by Disaster Response Management Group (DRMG) Assistant Secretary Diana Rose S. Cajipe, affirmed that their respective FOs are on alert and have adequate standby funds and a stockpile of food boxes for the anticipated impact of the drought.

Social Welfare and Development (SWAD) Teams in the different regions are also on standby and continuously coordinating with the LGUs to determine ways on how to assist those who will be affected by El Niño, especially the farmers and farm laborers.

Currently, the DSWD Central Office, the FOs and the National Resource Operations Center have stockpiles and standby funds amounting to more than PHP1.35 billion.

According to the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA), El Niño will possibly develop in July, August and September and may persist until 2024.

Gatchalian has instructed all field offices to continue monitoring the situation in their respective areas so that appropriate response can be immediately provided, in accordance with the directive of President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. to ensure that there will be no more hungry Filipino families. (PNA)