Palace chides mayors who called off classes lateBy Norman Bordadora
Philippine Daily Inquirer
MANILA, Philippines–Malacañang on Tuesday took Metro Manila mayors to task for not suspending classes early enough in areas affected by flash floods and heavy rains, reminding them of President Benigno Aquino III’s order requiring local governments to make the announcements not later than 4:30 a.m.
“We are giving them a little bit more time to cope with the new system and we hope that this will be the last time,” said Undersecretary Abigail Valte, the deputy presidential spokesperson.
The “new system” has actually been in place since January, when President Aquino issued Executive Order No. 66. It gives local officials the prerogative to suspend classes in the absence of typhoon signal warnings from the weather bureau.
“We’d like to remind city and municipal mayors that under the [EO] … the suspension must be announced at 4:30 a.m. to prevent the children and the parents who’d take them to school from leaving their homes,” Valte said in a news briefing.
Valte cited the complaints made by parents on TV, radio and the social media over the delayed announcements canceling classes amid continuous rains starting Monday night to Tuesday morning in Metro Manila.
The INQUIRER monitored that the City of Manila, for example, suspended classes at around 9 a.m., while Quezon City made the announcement at 10 a.m. Makati City called it at around 9 a.m., while Pasay followed suit at around 10 a.m.
“There were a lot of complaints from citizens when we were listening to the radio and watching TV and (monitoring) social networking sites. They were waiting for the declaration. That was past 6:30 a.m., if I am not mistaken,” Valte said.
Under the EO, the announcements should be made not later than 4:30 a.m. for the suspension of morning classes and not later than 11 a.m. for afternoon classes.
The EO also directs the weather bureau to issue the relevant weather forecasts not later than 10 p.m. of the previous day and 4:30 a.m. of the day of the intended suspension of classes and work.
The bureau shall also issue the forecast not later than 11 a.m. of the same day if the suspension of classes and work would be effective in the afternoon, the order said.
The weather bureau attributed Tuesday’s downpour to a low pressure area monitored off Batangas province. The LPA brought moderate to heavy rain across Southern and Central Luzon, including Metro Manila, starting Monday night.
“Its circulation was wide, that’s why it affected a large area. It’s a mini storm without the winds,” forecaster Jori Loiz said in an interview.
The LPA was forecast to cross the capital yesterday while heading toward the West Philippine Sea. “It will continue to bring moderate to heavy rain over Central and Southern Luzon, including Metro Manila, and even Western Visayas, but the rain will be isolated. By Thursday, we will have improving weather,” Loiz said.
Water rose close to spilling level at Ipo Dam in Norzagaray, Bulacan, and at La Mesa Dam in Quezon City. With reports from TJ Burgonio, Jaymee Gamil, Julie Aurelio