Falcon looms as PH still reels from Egay
MANILA, Philippines – A tropical storm east of the Philippines was drawing seasonal rain clouds into the country on Saturday and threatened more flooding and landslides over the next three days as provinces devastated by Typhoon Egay (international name: Doksuri) were still trying to recover.
A “generally higher” rainfall is expected over mountainous areas of the country as Tropical Storm Falcon (international name: Khanun), continues to enhance the southwest monsoon, the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (Pagasa) said.
“Under these conditions, flooding and rain-induced landslides are highly likely, especially in areas that are highly or very highly susceptible to these hazards as identified in hazard maps and in localities that experienced considerable amounts of rainfall for the past several days,” the state weather bureau said.
This will likely be the case in some localities that experienced heavy rainfall in the past days due to the southwest monsoon, or “habagat,” that had been enhanced by Falcon.
The tropical storm was forecast to become a typhoon on Sunday. It was centered around 1,205 kilometers east of Central Luzon over the Philippine Sea on Saturday afternoon and moving northward with maximum sustained winds of 75 km per hour and gusts of up to 90 kph.
Pagasa said it was unlikely that it would raise storm wind alerts because Falcon was far from the nearest landmass, Luzon.
However, the storm-enhanced southwest monsoon would bring “gusty conditions” over several areas, such as in Zambales, Bataan, Pampanga, Bulacan, Metro Manila, Occidental Mindoro, Palawan, Romblon, Northern Samar, and most parts of Calabarzon, Bicol and Western Visayas.
A satellite image of the storm on Pagasa’s website showed color-coded rainbands over the Ilocos, Calabarzon, Central Luzon, Mimaropa, and Western Visayas regions, indicating various intensities of rainfall over those areas.
The eastern side of the satellite image indicated Falcon’s northward track with its trough, or the clouds in its extension, above Eastern Visayas, which meant that it had been affecting the area.
Pagasa weather specialist Dan Villamil said Falcon still had no direct effect on the western section of the country.
The Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) said it would strictly inspect and implement safety protocols at ports as the new storm approached following the deaths of 27 people when the motorize banca MB Aya Express capsized and sank in Binangonan, Rizal, on Thursday.
Forty-three people have been rescued as of Saturday. Divers were searching for bodies that might have been trapped under the sunken vessel. “With the entry of a new storm in the country, we will be stricter in inspecting our interisland ferries so we prevent another tragedy from happening,” Rear Adm. Armand Balilo, spokesperson of the PCG, said at a forum in Quezon City.
With maximum winds of 185 kph and gusts of up to 250 kph, Egay caused the biggest havoc in northern Luzon despite not making landfall on the country’s major island last week.
President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. visited the region on Saturday, making brief stops in Abra, Ilocos Norte, and Cagayan provinces to distribute relief supplies and get debriefed on the extent of the devastation.
“I was here one year and one week ago and that was when an earthquake struck,” he said to officials in Abra, his first stop.
“I don’t like this. I could be bringing these (disasters) to you,” Marcos said in jest, saying he wanted to make a visit to Abra during festivals.
In Laoag, the capital of his home province of Ilocos Norte, Marcos ordered officials to bring in more water filtration equipment to the disaster-stricken areas to ensure that those displaced had clean drinking water.
Gov. Matthew Marcos Manotoc, a son of his sister Imee who traveled with him, said mayors had partnered with private water stations.
Office of Civil Defense Undersecretary Ariel Nepomuceno said that two filtration machines were placed in Ilocos Norte and will send some to other regions affected by the typhoon.
He said one filtration truck on its way from Metro Manila could produce 24,000 liters of water a day, Nepomuceno said.
Marcos said safe water systems should be prioritized in areas hit by a disaster ”because it looks like it is going to be happening more often than we hope.” By midafternoon, the President was in Tuguegarao, the capital of Cagayan, where he flew over for an aerial inspection of the city and the rest of the province to see the typhoon damage.
He said he was personally monitoring the typhoon response to ensure that aid was properly being distributed.
Officials of Ilocos Norte, Ilocos Sur, Abra and Mountain Province, Cavite, Dagupan City in Pangasinan, the town of Sanchez Mira in Cagayan, and Sablayan town in Occidental Mindoro have declared a state of calamity in their areas due to the destruction left by the typhoon.
Communication and power lines have not yet been restored in most of the affected localities, according to the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council.
Out of 181 cities and municipalities affected by the typhoon, only 44 percent have power.
Manotoc said electricity was restored in only 22 percent of his province’s 559 villages as of Saturday.