AUTHORITIES on Friday raised a “blue alert” status requiring disaster officials to prepare for heavy rains, as bad weather and flooding forced the national and local governments to suspend classes and office work.
Weather forecasters expect heavy rains to continue this weekend as Typhoon Butchoy continues to induce the southwest monsoon, even after exiting the Philippine area of responsibility.
Rains are expected to affect Zambales, Bataan, Batangas, Cavite and Mindoro.
The typhoon weakened as it crossed southern Taiwan at 4 p.m. on Friday. It was seen at 365 kilometers northwest of Itbayat, Batanes, with maximum sustained winds of 150 kilometers per hour near the center, and gustiness of up to 185 kph.
The National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council ordered preemptive evacuation of families in low-lying areas and strict monitoring of Central Luzon and Southern Luzon as well as the Cordillera Autonomous Region.
The council also ordered a close watch of the Batanes and Babuyan islands, particularly on the impact of winds on light structures and wooden electric posts.
At least 119 people from San Felipe, San Narciso and San Antonio in Zambales have been evacuated to safer grounds as of Friday, Undersecretary Ricardo Jalad, director of the Office of Civil Defense, said.
Batanes and Zambales were placed on red rainfall warning, with monsoon rains induced by Typhoon Butchoy reaching 30mm in one hour which could cause flooding in low-lying areas.
Under the blue alert status, half of the personnel of all regional and municipal disaster risk reduction management offices, the regional offices of civil defense and other government agencies in areas expected to be affected by severe weather should be at their posts.
Parts of Metro Manila and nearby provinces were flooded.
As a result, classes up to high school and college in several Metro Manila cities were suspended.
In Memorandum Circular No. 2 signed by Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea, government work and classes in Metro Manila were suspended effective 1 p.m. on Friday.
Luzon provinces such as Batanes, Bataan, Zambales and Batangas also suspended classes.
In Zambales, the Namatacan dike was said to be at critical level, as officials said two landslides occurred in Olongapo City amid heavy rains — at the Skipper Beach in Barangay Barretto and the Olongapo public cemetery beside the national highway.
Officials denied reports of a storm surge along the coasts of the province.