MANILA, Philippines—The National Disaster Risk Reduction Management Council has ordered local disaster response units to prepare for the evacuation of residents living by rivers and in low-lying areas in Eastern Visayas and Eastern Mindanao that may be affected by a typhoon that is predicted to hit the country next week.
Council executive director Benito Ramos said Saturday he has requested that even cockpit arenas not be used starting next week so that they could serve as evacuation centers aside from the municipal gymnasiums, schools, and churches.
“Wag muna magsabong (Please postpone the cockfights),” Ramos said.
Known by its international name “Bopha,” the cyclone was located 1,690 kilometers east of Mindanao Saturday morning. It was west at 20 kph.
It will be the 16th cyclone to enter the Philippines this year and will be named “Pablo” when it enters the Philippine area of responsibility.
“This is a strong (typhoon). I hope it melts so that we would have a nice Christmas. But the problem is, this is a strong one, that’s why we have been preparing for it since (Friday),” Ramos said.
Ramos said it was still “early to predict” which specific areas in Eastern Visayas and Eastern Mindanao would be affected by the storm.
“There is a low pressure area up in Taiwan which could control the behavior of the storm. It is not definite that this will hit Mindanao or Visayas, which is why we will observe (the storm) for the next 24 hours,” Ramos said.
However, Ramos said so far, six satellite observers from the United States, Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, and the Philippines all project that “Bopha” would hit the Philippines.
Ramos had earlier expressed concern about the strength of the approaching typhoon, saying that it was likely to bring more rains that “Sendong,” which ravaged parts of Visayas and Mindanao around this time last year.
“Sendong” killed thousands, particularly in Cagayan de Oro and Iligan City, when flashfloods brought by the rains and swollen rivers hit in the middle of the night and caught people unaware of the disaster.
Ensuring that the tragedy would not be repeated, Ramos said the local disaster risk reduction management councils of Regions 6, 7, 8, 9, 11, 12 and Caraga have met in conferences in Visayas and Mindanao to prepare for the storm.
Ramos said he has also coordinated with Social Welfare Secretary Dinky Soliman on how food and other relief goods would be sent to people affected by the storm.
Ramos said that the Department of Public Works and Highways was also on standby with its engineering equipment especially in areas that are prone to landslides.
“Our local responders are ready and the people living by the rivers will be evacuated,” Ramos said.
He said the Army was ready to carry out evacuations in Eastern Mindanao and Eastern Visayas, and the Philippine National Police, the Philippine Coast Guard, as well as the Bureau of Fire Protection were also on alert.