NWRB to maintain water allocation to Metro Manila

THE National Water Resources Board (NWRB) vowed to maintain its increased water allocation to the two concessionaires in Metro Manila, the area in the country with the highest number of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) cases. In a radio interview Tuesday, NWRB Executive Director Dr. Sevillo D. David Jr. said the water allocation to the nation’s capital has been raised to 46 cubic meters per second (cms) since the national government declared a state of public health emergency. On Monday, President Rodrigo R. Duterte reported to Congress that the NWRB has increased the water allocation in accordance with the call for the observance of frequent hand washing and baths as preventive measures to combat the virus causing COVID-19. As of Tuesday morning, the water level of Angat Dam, Metro Manila’s main source, was at 192.25 meters, lower by 0.20 meters from Monday, according to data from the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical, and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA). Angat Dam’s normal water level is 212 meters. — Revin Mikhael D. Ochave

Iloilo City prepares post-quarantine plan; UP Visayas submits exit guide

ILOILO City Mayor Jerry P. Treñas has formed a multi-sector committee that will draw up protocols for the gradual lifting of restrictions after the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) policy ends on April 30. The committee, chaired by Roland Jay Fortuna, the city’s focal person for the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) response, includes city hall department heads, councilors, police officers, and business sector leaders. “We really have to move forward. We will slowly lift the ECQ,” Mr. Treñas said in a press conference on Monday. Meanwhile, a group of professors and experts from the University of the Philippines Visayas submitted to the mayor a quarantine exit plan that will be used as one of the guides for allowing businesses to resume operations while maintaining safety measures against COVID-19. Professors Maria Elisa Baliao Rhodella Ibabao, Hanny John Mediodia, Cristabel Parcon, Juhn Cris Espia, and Vicente Balinas recommended steps based on the experiences of countries that have started their gradual exit from a lockdown or have adopted general community quarantine measures. The proposed measures are also based on online reports and informal consultations with sector representatives. “Once the lockdown policy is lifted after April 30, Iloilo City should consider prepping for a phased reopening and scaling back of LGU’s (local government unit’s) support for the economy. The phased reopening is a strategy that will protect the people from the virus allowing life to progressively return to normal, albeit a ‘new normal,’” reads part of the exit plan. — Emme Rose S. Santiagudo

Rebels-turned-rangers start growing ‘survival gardens’


FOREST rangers in the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM), among them former Moro Islamic Liberation Front combatants, have started cultivating “survival gardens” of vegetables and short-term crops in forestlands as part of food security measures amid the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) outbreak. “They have already begun implementing the initiative in their respective communities early this month,” BARMM-Minister of Environment, Natural Resources and Energy Abdulraof A. Macacua said in a statement on Monday. The gardens, he said, “will serve as another source of food for the region’s constituents, helping them ease the shortage of food supply” during and after the health crisis. Provincial Environment, Natural Resources and Energy (PENRE) officers continue to identify suitable planting areas around the region, considering those that are near forest-dependent communities and where water is accessible. Mr. Macacua said in Filipino, “We are hopeful that this vegetable gardening will continue not just while there is a pandemic, but in days ahead because this is beneficial to families.” The BARMM ministry, similar to several local governments and agricultural regional offices around the country, has also been promoting and providing seeds for backyard gardening. — Carmelito Q. Francisco