The southern part of Cebu will experience heavy rains when typhoon Pablo makes landfall tonight.
Signal no. 2 was declared over Cebu province as mayors in Cebu, Mandaue and Lapu-Lapu cities suspended classes in all levels today.
For two days, the public has been warned about the approaching howler, whose wind speeds of 175 kilometers per hour to 210 kph are similar to super typhoon Ruping which devastated parts of Cebu in November 1990, sank 38 ships and left the metropolis without electricity for a month.
The storm earlier changed course, from a northern sweep of Cebu to the south, and is forecast to affect Argao town and lower towns and cities based on Pag-asa data.
President Benigno Aquino appeared on nationwide TV yesterday to warn people to take precautions.
“This typhoon is not a joke,” Aquino said after meeting top officials in charge of disaster-response.
“It could be the strongest to hit the country this year,” he said. “But we can minimize the damage and loss of lives if we help each other.”
The eye of the storm is forecast to be in Cagayan de Oro by this afternoon.
The typhoon was tracked in Surigao del Sur at 11 o’clock last night moving westward and will be in the vicinity of Bacolod City by Tuesday evening. The typhoon will make first landfall in eastern Mindanao at dawn.
Oscar Tabada, chief of the Pagasa Mactan weather station, briefed Cebu City Hall officials yesterday, saying the southern part of Cebu will most likely experience heavy rains when Pablo makes landfall tonight.
CANCELLED SEA TRIPS
At least 42 vessels from Cebu ports yesterday canceled their trips to Bohol, Leyte, Bantayan island, Ormoc, Camotes Island, San Carlos City in Negros Occidental, Cagayan de Oro, Iloilo, Masbate, and Nasipit, on orders of the Philippine Coast Guard Cebu station.
Cebu Pacific announced that it has canceled round trip flights today out of Cebu with destinations to Bacolod, Butuan, Cagayan de Oro, Caticlan, General Santos and Surigao and Pagadian due to the storm.
Cebu Gov. Gwendolyn Garcia yesterday convened the province’s disaster response management council. The Capitol activated a 24-hour action center.
The governor asked private construction companies to make their heavy equipment available for emergency use.
“I ask everyone to pray our Señor Sto. Niño, to our Lady of Guadalupe and of course, San Pedro Calungsod that Cebu will be spared,” she said.
The Visayas Electric Co. (Veco) doubled the number of call center agents on duty to copy with an expected surge of emergency calls for power interruptions.
“The safety of our customers and team members are of utmost importance. Although we at Veco are doing everything we can to prepare with contingency measures, we urge the public to be vigilant. Stay home, keep safe, listen to the updated weather forecasts over the radio,” said Ricardo Lacson, Veco vice president for administration, in a statement.
All district hospitals in Cebu province were placed on “white alert” which means all personnel will be on duty and ready for any eventualities or untoward incidents.
Chief Supt. Marcelo Garbo, director of the Central Visayas police, canceled the leaves of all policemen and placed them on heightened alert.
He said he directed city and provincial directors “to coordinate with local officials for whatever help we can extend.”
The Department of Social Welfare and Development prepared its quick response team for disaster relief work.
Jaybee Binghay, DSWD 7 information officer, said they already prepared at least 5,000 relief packs for immediate distribution. Each pack consists of three kilos of rice, canned food, noodles, a hygiene kit, slippers, cooking utensils and clothes.
Typhon Pablo, which has a 600-kilometer-wide rain band, was expected to barrel across southern and central provinces before blowing out into the South China Sea on Thursday, according to government forecasters.
Communities were reminded to trim tree branches to avoid the loss of lives and property due to strong winds.
Hundreds of passengers were stranded in various ports in Cebu after the coast guard grounded all vessels yesterday.
Rear Admiral Luis Tuason Jr., PCG officer-in-charge and vice commandant for operations, yesterday ordered all districts and stations to brace of the typhoon.
With boat travel suspended, two members of the Cebu Provincial Board road a Jet Ski from Camotes Island in north Cebu to the mainland to be able to catch up with the weekly board session.
Once PB Members Jude Sybico and Miguel Magpale reached Danao City, they motored to the provincial capitol to make it to the 1 p.m session. /Carmel Loise Matus, Fe Marie D. Dumaboc and
Joy Cherry S. Quito, Correspondents, with reports from AP, Inquirer and correspondents Jucell Marie P. Cuyos, Edison A. delos Angeles, Jhunnex Napallacan, and Norman Mendoza