Heavy rains is the new 'normal' says DENR chief

Brace yourselves not only for more heavy rains, but also for longer droughts.

The Philippines will continuously experience the growing intensity of typhoons, increasing monsoon rain volumes and extended dry seasons, Environment Secretary Ramon Paje said.

"There is nothing we could do but to adapt to climate change and... to accept that the recent developments in our country like intense weather disturbances, heavy rainfall, as well as long dry season are now the 'new normal," Paje said in a statement Wednesday.

Paje's statement comes as thousands of Filipinos battle floods, following heavy rains spurred by the southwest monsoon.

Paje, for his part, urged Filipinos to heed calls for evacuation or other disaster preparedness measures, noting that such actions may prevent casualties during natural disasters such as the Quezon City landslide on Tuesday.

This, even as it noted that the area along Commonwealth Avenue had been identified as susceptible to landslides since 2002, adding that he will ask the Quezon City government to declare the area a "permanent danger zone."

Since the Philippines has been tagged as "highly vulnerable" to the impacts of climate change, Paje said the government is looking to implement long-term solutions to minimize damage of climate change-related disasters.

Paje cited as an example plans of constructing of small impounding dams in the uplands to prevent floods in low-lying areas, a project to be implemented jointy by the Environment and Public Works departments.

"If you allow rainwater to go down the watersheds it would result in flooding. But if you can impound them, the water becomes precious resource that you can use during the dry season," Paje said.

He also said his department's Mines and Geosciences Bureau is developing bigger geohazard maps to be distributed to barangays, even as he noted that over 75,000 geohazard maps have already been made for local governments.

He also noted that the Agriculture department has recently developed new climate change-resilient rice varieties.

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