THE Armed Forces of the Philippines has alerted all its search, rescue and retrieval units for humanitarian assistance and disaster response (HADR) operations in areas expected to be affected by a supertyphoon.
Typhoon Mawar, which battered the island State of Guam in the Western Pacific on Wednesday, is expected to hit the country this weekend under the local name “Betty.”
Military spokesman Col. Medel Aguilar said on Thursday all unified commands and major services were directed to check the readiness of HADR equipment and assets, preposition HADR units, assist LGUs in evacuations, and participate in coordination meetings and planning activities.
“As such, vehicles and personnel are already being prepared to assist in the mandatory evacuation of residents in vulnerable areas. Air and naval assets are also on standby for deployment for future aerial assessment, transport, and evacuation operations,” he said.
Aguilar said 7,970 personnel, 4,242 Cafgu Active Auxiliary members and 180 reservists were alerted as first responders.
At least 2,518 land transportation assets, 20 air assets and 265 water assets would also be deployed for the HADR operations.
“Additional troops and assets will be committed when necessary,” he said.
He urged the public “to be vigilant and to take precautionary measures as advised by competent authorities. Let us all do our part in ensuring the safety not just of the affected communities but of our responders as well.”
Earlier, the Philippine Coast Guard mobilized its deployable response groups (DRGs) and Quick Response Teams (QRTs) in the Cordillera Administrative Region (CAR) and Ilocos region.
The PCG district commanders were told to ensure the readiness of Coast Guard stations and sub-stations, especially in Northern Luzon, which is expected to be directly affected by the supertyphoon.
Farmer, fishers told to secure crops, boats
The Department of Agriculture (DA) advised farmers and fishers to harvest matured crops and secure fishing vessels in higher ground in preparation for Typhoon “Mawar.”
“The farmers should harvest matured crops and utilize post-harvest facilities; it should also secure seed reserves, planting materials and other farm inputs, as well as feed and water for livestock,” the DA said in its advisory on Thursday.
“Relocate animals, farm machineries, and equipment to higher ground; and clear drainage in irrigation and rice paddies from obstructions to prevent flooding,” it added.
The DA said fisherfolk are also advised to; perform early harvest and mobilize post-harvest equipment and facilities; also secure fishing vessels in higher ground; and avoid sea travel as potentially rough conditions prevail over affected seaboards.
The DA-Disaster Risk Reduction and Management (DA-DRRM) Operations Centers, and concerned corporations did preparatory activities like the prepositioning of seeds for rice and corn, drugs and biologics for livestock and poultry in safe storage facilities.
The Department of Science and Technology-Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (DOST-Pagasa) situationer as of 3 a.m. Thursday said the center of the eye of typhoon was estimated, based on all available data, at East of Visayas with maximum sustained winds of 185 km/h near the center and gustiness up to 230 km/h.
“It is moving Northwestward slowly. Typhoon Mawar has a high chance of entering PAR [Philippine Area of Responsibility] by Friday or Saturday,” Pagasa added.
It also said that while the typhoon is expected to have a low chance of making landfall, it is likely to enhance the southwest monsoon.
MMDA braces for impact
The Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) is also preparing for “Mawar.”
MMDA acting chairman Romando Artes met with the Metro Manila Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (MMDRRMC) on Thursday on preparations for “Mawar.
Artes, also the concurrent MMDRRMC chairperson, assured close and prompt coordination among concerned government agencies and Metro Manila local government units.
“MMDRRMC members shall monitor round-the-clock weather updates and situations, while disaster response units will monitor potential flooding in flood prone areas and waterways,” said Artes.
On standby for deployment, Artes said, is MMDA’s Urban Search and Rescue Team, with 20 rescuers trained in water search and rescue operations. Rescuers are equipped with life vests, wet suits, boats, and water rescue helmets when rescuing disaster victims. They also have rescue cans, throw ropes, and life buoys to aid in rescuing victims on the water.
Artes said they have identified critical areas in coordination with the Metro Manila LGUs for the possible mobilization of personnel and assets in case of flooding.
Artes also met with MMDRRMC heads of member agencies and local disaster risk reduction and management council officers on preparedness measures in response to the southwest monsoon (Habagat) enhanced by Super Typhoon “Mawar.”
MMDRRMC Senior Vice Chairperson and Office of Civil Defense (OCD)-NCR Regional Director Romulo M. Cabantac Jr. also joined Artes.
With Raadee S. Sausa, Claudeth Mocon-Ciriaco
Image credits: Nonoy Lacza