Preparations stepped up as ‘Mawar’ nears PH, regains strength
Tropical Cyclone “Mawar”—which will also be called “Betty” once it enters the Philippine Area of Responsibility (PAR)—regained strength and was categorized again as a supertyphoon on Thursday, lending further urgency to evacuation, rescue and aid preparations in areas expected to reel from its effects toward the weekend.
Forecasts as of Thursday afternoon from the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (Pagasa) still ruled out Mawar making landfall in the country but only enhancing the southwest monsoon (“habagat”) until the middle of next week.
“[Mawar] will maintain its intensity or category as a supertyphoon until it enters our seas. Its sustained winds can also go as high as 215 kph,” said Pagasa weather specialist Ana Clauren-Jorda.
It is expected to enter PAR between Friday night and Saturday morning, Jorda added.
Mawar was located 2,000 kilometers east of southern Luzon, with maximum winds of 195 kph near the center and gustiness at a high of 240 kph.
Rains and thunderstorms are expected in southern Luzon, Mimaropa (Mindoro, Marinduque, Romblon, Palawan), Western Visayas, Zamboanga and the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao. The weather bureau’s tracking showed Cagayan Valley bearing the brunt of the bad weather.
The supertyphoon would be the second tropical cyclone to affect the Philippines this year, after Tropical Depression “Amang” that struck in April.
On his social media pages, President Marcos said the government was “preparing for [Mawar’s] effects not only in the northern part of the country but in all places which the typhoon might affect.”
He had met with concerned government officials led by Senior Undersecretary Carlito Galvez Jr., officer in charge of the Department of National Defense, to ensure that funds and food packs had been prepositioned and response teams placed on alert especially in local government units in the typhoon’s path.
Local officials in northern and southern Luzon have begun preparations. In Isabela province, for example, the weeklong Mammangi Festival in the City of Ilagan was canceled and canopies set up for the event were dismantled on Thursday morning.
Paul Bacungan, the city’s information officer, said the festival, which was originally scheduled for May 25 to May 30, was postponed to Aug. 5 to Aug. 11 in time for the cityhood anniversary.
In Baculod village, also in Ilagan, vegetable farmer Antonio Tumaliuan started harvesting his crops, mostly vegetables, fearing flooding.
Rescue teams were also prepositioned at village centers across Ilagan. A no-sailing policy was also enforced in the coastal areas.
In Zambales province, the local government of San Marcelino town conducted a predisaster risk assessment as early as Wednesday.
San Marcelino Mayor Elmer Soria said he had alerted the municipal disaster risk reduction and management office and other concerned agencies.
In the Bicol region, a no-sailing policy was also enforced, according to Claudio Yucot, chief of the Office of Civil Defense-Bicol.
The Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) Office in the region was also advised to prepare food packs and carry out emergency preparedness measures.
While the Visayas is not directly in the projected path of Mawar, local governments are not taking chances.
In Eastern Visayas, a region that is no stranger to typhoons, social workers have started to preposition food and nonfood items in areas prone to landslide and flooding as early as Wednesday.
Lawyer Jonalyndie Chua, regional information officer of the DSWD, said 47,924 food packs worth P32.54 million and 23,702 nonfood items such as hygiene kits and blankets valued at P38.36 million had been prepositioned in the different parts of the region.
In Jipapad town, one of the most flood-prone areas in Eastern Samar, municipal disaster risk reduction and management officer Vicky Abestros said they had stockpiled food items enough to provide the needs of 2,780 families.
Jhon Allen Berbon, information officer of the provincial government of Northern Samar, said they had alerted all the disaster risk reduction and management offices of the province as well as informed localities facing the Pacific Ocean for possible storm surges.
In Cebu City, disaster teams on Wednesday reactivated the 24-hour emergency operations center and prepositioned rescue equipment. The city government, through the Local School Board, also prepared schools in case there is a need for evacuation.
According to Harold Alcontin, chief of the Cebu City Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office, they do not want to be complacent even if the supertyphoon is not expected to make landfall in the city.
In Bohol, the Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council has been monitoring updates of the supertyphoon to map out measures to avoid untoward incidents.
“We aim for zero casualties,” said Anthony Damalerio, the provincial disaster risk reduction and management officer.
The Central Visayas police also readied at least 517 officers for storm deployment. “They will serve as augmentation to our local governments should the need arise,” said Police Lt. Col. Gerard Ace Pelare, spokesperson for the regional police.
In Bacolod City, Mayor Alfredo Abelardo Benitez met with the City Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council on Wednesday to prepare for the supertyphoon.
Similar preparations were also conducted by the Negros Occidental Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction Council members to avoid untoward incidents, said Provincial Administrator Rayfrando Diaz. —Reports from Abby Boiser, Jerome Aning, Frances Mangosing in Manila; Joey Gabieta, Carla Gomez, Leo Udtohan and Ador Vincent Mayol of Inquirer Visayas; VILLAMOR VISAYA JR., JOANNA ROSE AGLIBOT AND MA. APRIL MIER-MANJARES of Inquirer Luzon
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