The government is on full alert as Typhoon Glenda (international codename: Rammasun) started lashing several provinces in Luzon on Tuesday.
The Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (Pagasa) placed Metro Manila and 33 provinces in Luzon and four provinces in the Visayas under public storm warning signals.
More than 96,000 families were moved to evacuation centers. Three fishermen were reported missing in Bicol province.
Under Signal No. 3 were the provinces of Catanduanes, Albay, Sorsogon, Camarines Sur, Burias and Ticao Islands in Luzon and Northern Samar in the Visayas.
Signal No.2 was raised over Metro Manila and the provinces of Camarines Norte, Masbate, Marinduque, Quezon including Polillo Islands, Batangas, Cavite, Laguna, Rizal and Bulacan, and the Visayan provinces of Samar and Eastern Samar.
Placed under Signal No.1 were Romblon, Oriental and Occidental Mindoro, Lubang Island, Pampanga, Bataan, Zambales, Tarlac, Nueva Ecija, Pangasinan, Aurora, Quirino, Nueva Vizcaya, Bengue and La Union and Northern Leyte, including Biliran Island, in the Visayas.
Residents of Metro Manila and the provinces under storm warning signals were alerted against possible flashfloods and landslides and those living in coastal areas under signal Nos. 2 and 3 were alerted against storm surges.
President Benigno Aquino 3rd, according to Presidential Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr., ordered concerned government agencies to ensure that preventive measures are in place to avoid human casualties and minimize damage to property.
“The government has been placed on full alert and has intensified preparations to achieve zero casualties [when Typhoon Glenda would be at its strongest and when it makes]
landfall in the Albay-Sorsogon area [in the Bicol Region]later today,” Coloma said in a statement.
“The National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council [NDRRMC] has mobilized the regional and local disaster risk reduction management units to undertake all the necessary actions to ensure the safety of all our citizens, especially those living in, near or within the danger zones or high-risk areas,” he added.
The NDRRMC said 4,331 passengers, 41 vessels, 438 rolling cargo boats and 11 motorized bancas were stranded in various ports in the Bicol Region, Southern Tagalog and Eastern Visayas.
It said 71 domestic and nine international flights were canceled due to bad weather.
Classes were suspended in the cities and municipalities of the affected provinces as 2,064 schools were designated as evacuation centers for evacuees.
Coloma said the NDRRMC and the Department of Science and Technology are “continuously monitoring the situation and will be providing regular updates on the typhoon.”
The NDRMMC has placed its operation centers under “red alert” status as Glenda moved toward the Bicol Region.
Its executive director, Undersecretary Alexander Pama explained that under this status, all provincial and municipal risk reduction management units and the Office of Civil Defense in affected areas are directed to monitor and disseminate the weather situation and to undertake precautionary measures in their areas of responsibilities.
Pagasa said the typhoon would bring 7.5 to 15 mm of rain per hour (moderate to heavy) within its 400-km diameter.
The typhoon is expected to be in the vicinity of Metro Manila (National Capital Region or NCR) this morning and is projected to exit tomorrow afternoon via Zambales.
The Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) also on Tuesday alerted its rescue units placing them on “stand-by mode.”
MMDA Chairman Francis Tolentino said all rescue units are now ready for possible operation or deployment.
The concurrent chairman of the Metro Manila Disaster Risk and Reduction Management Council, added that the MMDA has also placed on stand-by its rescue equipment, rubber boats and vehicles.
Tolentino ordered billboard operators to roll up their tarpaulins to prevent a repeat of what happened during Typhoon Milenyo in 2006 when toppled trees and billboards caused death and destruction.
The MMDA suspended the operations of Pasig Ferry Terminal because Metro Manila was under typhoon Signal No. 2.
The Quezon City government, on orders of Mayor Herbert Bautista, placed on alert all disaster action teams as the city started positioning all necessary emergency response services in anticipation of the impact of Glenda.
In Muntinlupa City, Mayor Jaime Fresnedi suspended classes in all levels in private and public schools.
The Navotas City government also announced the suspension of classes in all levels on Wednesday in public and private schools.
Marikina City also canceled classes in all levels in public and private schools.
In Parañaque City, Mayor Edwin Olivarez announced there will be no classes today in public and private schools.
Classes in all levels were also suspended in Mandaluyong City and Pateros.
There will also be no classes in all levels in Olongapo and Cavite cities.
Meanwhile, the Manila Electric Co. (Meralco) said it was ready to immediately respond to power outages that may result from the typhoon.
“As a 24-hour service company, we are committed to respond to these types of emergency. Our crew are on standby to attend to any trouble that may affect our facilities in areas that might be hit by the typhoon,” Joe Zaldarriaga, spokesman for Meralco, said in a statement also on Tuesday.
He said the Meralco Call Center will be ready to accept customer concerns. Customers may get in touch with the Call Center at 16211 or visit Meralco’s website (www.meralco.com.ph), Facebook page (www.facebook.com/meralco) and Twitter account (@ Meralco) for updates.
They may also text their concerns to 0920-9716211 (Smart), 0917-55166211 (Globe), and 0925-7716211 (Sun).
The Philippine National Police activated the National Headquarters Disaster Incident Management Task Group to coordinate all disaster response operations of police units along the pathway of the typhoon.
The Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) also cancelled trips to Bicol Region.
In Metro Manila, to augment any possible lack of transport due to floods, the operating hours of the Light Rail Transit (LRT) and Metro Rail Transit (MRT) may be extended.
Catherine Valente, Ritchie A. Horario, Neil A. Alcober, William B. Depasupil, Jing Villamente, Benjie L. Vergara And Francis Earl A. Cueto