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El Niño dries up 3 villages in Don Salvador, Negros Occidental

BACOLOD CITY, Feb. 27 – El Niño phenomenon has hit Don Salvador Benedicto town in central Negros Occidental and dried up already three barangays of the town, said Mayor Marxlene Dela Cruz.

The corn and rice fields in barangays Pandanon, Igmaya-an and Kumaliskis were adversely affected, which Dela Cruz said can be declared under state of calamity.

Other barangays in the town still enjoy the rainforest, temporarily freeing them from the wrath of the dry spell, said Dela Cruz.

"Probably we will declare the state of calamity only in particular barangays but not the whole town," said de la Cruz.

Don Salvador Benedicto has been declared as the Summer Capital of Negros Occidental because of its low-cool temperature. It is known as the “Little Baguio” of the province.

At noon time, the temperature is at 26 degrees centigrade.

Dela Cruz said that the town farmers should not suppose to suffer the impact of the dry spell but because the irrigation project has not been finished due to opposition by some militant groups, “now they experience the sad scenario”.

He said that the town’s irrigation project did not pushed through when its construction in June 2009 was halted by a protest action of the militant and environmental organizations, led by the Green Alert-Negros.

The municipal government made its effort to secure an Environmental Compliance Certificate (ECC) from the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) to continue the project.

Last week, the town officials submitted their documents to the DENR after they got the papers from the National Water Rights Board.

Dela Cruz said the council was determined to comply with the Environmental Management Board requirements.

At least 72 farmers in 200 hectares of land were supposed to benefit from the irrigation project, said Dela Cruz.

On claims of the Green Alert that trees were cut during the construction of the irrigation, Dela Cruz clarified that “not a single tree was cut”.

He said he would not allow any cutting of trees because he also cares for the environment. The canal of the irrigation is about 1-foot and a-half by one-foot and a-half “which is open for anyone to see… there is no destruction of forest in the town”.

He opined that being the mayor of his town, he has been prudent with his actions especially in terms of environmental protection. (PNA) RMA/GMDelaCruz/vlo

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