By Joyce Ann L. Rocamora

(PNA file photo)

MANILA— The government is on a tight watch over food prices, water, and power supply as it anticipates the El Niño to affect more provinces by the end of February.

At a news forum in Quezon City on Saturday, Task Force El Niño spokesperson and Presidential Communications Office Assistant Secretary Joey Villarama said 41 provinces are currently affected by the weather phenomenon.

He said 10 more may be added to the list before March.

In Western Visayas and Zamboanga Peninsula alone, the government has monitored PHP151 million in losses in rice and corn.

Of the 41 provinces, 17 are currently experiencing dry conditions, 10 under dry spell, and 14 are experiencing drought.

“In terms of what is being monitored at kung ano po iyong binabantayan ng task force, ayon na rin sa direktiba ng ating Pangulo, iyan po ang food security, ang water supply, obviously power supply, health at saka po iyong kung magkakaroon po ng pagtaas sa mga presyo (based on the directive of the chief executive, we are monitoring our food security, water and power supply, health, and food prices),” Villarama said.

“Diyan po papasok iyong fiscal measures (This is where our fiscal measures will enter),” he added.

The official added that the Department of Health is monitoring water-borne and vector-driven diseases like cholera, typhoid fever, dengue, and chikungunya.

”So far, wala pa pong naitatala ang Department of Health na anumang outbreak (the DOH has not monitored any outbreak,” he said.

The weather bureau earlier said that strong effects of El Nino will persist until the end of March. (PNA)