THE Regional Disaster Reduction and Risk Management Council in Davao has been placed on red alert effective December 2, as Typhoon Hagupit is expected to bring strong waves and bad weather as it lumbers down on the eastern seaboard of the country.
“In this regard, RDRRMC 11 members are advised to activate their respective operation center and place under red alert status effective same time. The RDRRMC 11 members are advised to be alert and take precautionary measures and monitor updates on the weather disturbances,” read the memorandum from retired Brigadier General Loreto G. Rirao, Office of Civil Defense (OCD)-Davao director and RDRRMC-Davao chair.
“Let us aim for zero casualties,” Rirao said in the memorandum.
Meanwhile, Eastern Mindanao Command (Eastmincom) commander Lieutenant General Aurelio Baladad directed all his subordinates to prepare and activate disaster response units.
Baladad issued the order after their emergency meeting at the OCD office at Camp Quintin M. Merecido in Catitipan, Davao City. Present on Wednesday’s meeting were representatives from different government agencies making up the pre-disaster risk assessment team.
The military chief also instructed his subordinates, the Philippine Army’s 4th and 10th Infantry Divisions, and other units under Eastmincom, to coordinate with their respective Local Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council before the storm enters the Philippine area of responsibility (PAR).
“We are preparing for two scenarios here, one, if the tropical storm will landfall in the Eastern Mindanao Command’s AOR and second, if it will hit Visayas, the necessitate disaster response units should already be deployed in different areas,” Baladad said.
Davao OCD Director retired Brigadier General Loreto Rirao said they are more concerned about possible flooding and landslides once Hagupit makes it landfall in the country.
He also alerted the local government units and the public to be vigilant for the possible effect of the storm.
In its weather advisory as of 4 p.m. Wednesday, the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical, Astronomical and Services Administration (Pagasa) said the typhoon was located at 1,278 kilometers east of Hinatuan, Surigao Del Sur.
It was packing maximum winds of 160 kilometers per hour (kph) near the center and gustiness of up to 195 kph. It was forecast to move west northwest at 30 kph.
Pagasa said Hagupit may enter the PAR by Thursday.
Pagasa Davao station chief Gerry Pedrico, in a phone interview, advised Dabawenyos to be vigilant.
“Dili lang ta mag kumpyansa maski dili diri sa atoa muagi. Labi na sa mga nag puyo sa bukid, mag binantayon ta sa landslide. Dili pud mag kumpyansa nga adunay flashflood (Let’s not be complacent even if the typhoon is not heading toward the region. Especially for those who live on slopes, always be alert for landslides. There is also the threat of flashfloods),” Pedrico told Sun.Star Davao.
“Padayon ta nga magpatuo ug warnings sa atong mga opisyales labi na sa barangay. Kung muingon nga adunay preemptive evacuation, magpatuo ta (Let’s heed the warnings and advisories from barangay councils. If there is need for preemptive evacuation, let us evacuate),” he added.
During the onslaught of Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan) last year, the Eastmincom sent Task Force “Tambayayong” to Leyte for Humanitarian and Disaster Response Operations.
The same readiness will be demonstrated by the command in case Visayas will be hit badly by the storm, Baladad said.