MANILA — Pasig City Rep. Roman Romulo on Thursday expressed concern that the Php19.2-billion budget the government has allocated might not be sufficient to help farmers and consumers weather the negative impact of El Niño.

“Zamboanga has now declared a state of calamity because of the Godzilla El Niño has began to dry up its water sources,” he said. “Until now, government has not informed us on how it plans to spend the funds.”

“We expect the number of provinces and cities to do so up to May when the “meteorological drought” is forecast to peak by PAGASA. Government should be prepared to increase the El Niño funds when necessary,” he added.

According to reports, nine out of the 25 irrigation dams in Zamboanga City have dried up, six are in critical state, while 10 have below normal water levels. Damage to crops and fisheries have reached Php 132.54 million.

PAGASA has warned that as much as 85 percent of the country, comprising of 68 provinces, will suffer by April, a “meteorological drought” caused by El Niño. Twelve other provinces in Luzon and Mindanao will experience a dry spell.

It is expected to peak between March and May this year, the state weather agency said. El Niño is a weather phenomenon that develops in the Pacific Ocean that is a result of the warming of sea temperatures.

“A consensus of climate models shows that it will likely strengthen further…and may last until the first half of 2016. This 2015-2016 El Niño event will potentially be four strongest events since 1950 (1972-1973, 1982-1983, 1997-1998),” PAGASA said.

Last year, at least 8 provinces, including Cebu and Pangasinan, declared a state of calamity because of the damage wrought by El Niño.

“We have learned our lessons from Yolanda and the Bohol quake. Let us act now to help the communities in the El Niño areas identified by PAGASA to combat the Godzilla-like threat this El Niño is forecast to bring,” Romulo pointed out.

In Luzon, provinces likely to experience drought are: Abra, Kalinga, Ilocos Norte, Ilocos Sur, La Union, Pangasinan, Cagayan, Isabela, Bataan, Bulacan, Nueva Ecija, Pampanga, Tarlac, Zambales, Metro Manila, Batangas, Cavite, Laguna, Marinduque, Occidental Mindoro, Oriental Mindoro, Romblon, Palawan, Albay, Camarines Norte, Camarines Sur, Catanduanes, Masbate, Sorsogon.

In Visayas, provinces identified by PAGASA are: Aklan, Antiques, Guimaras, Iloilo, Negros Occidental, Bohol, Cebu, Negros Oriental, Siquijor, Biliran, Eastern Samar, Leyte, Northern Samar, Samar (Western Samar), Southern Leyte.

In Mindanao, those likely to experience drought are: Zamboanga Del Norte, Zamboanga Del Sur, Zamboanga Sibugay, Bukidnon, Camiguin, Lanao Norte, Misamis Occidental, Misamis Oriental, Compostela Valley, Davao Del Sur, Davao Oriental, South Cotabato, North Cotabato, Sarangani, Sultan Kudarat, Surigao Del Norte, Surigao Del Sur, Basilan, Maguindanao, Lanao Del Sur, Sulu, and Tawi-tawi. Sammy F. Martin/PNA /