• Howler threatens ‘Yolanda’ areas


    A powerful typhoon bearing down on the Philippines has a strong chance of making landfall by Saturday and threatens areas in Eastern Visayas that were devastated by Typhoon Yolanda last year, government weathermen said on Wednesday.

    The Philippine Atmospheric Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (Pagasa) said Typhoon Hagupit was tracked 1,610 kilometers east of Davao City as of 8 a.m. Wednesday, packing winds of 140 kph gusting to 170 kph.

    Hagupit is forecast to enter the Philippine Area of Responsibility on Thursday morning. Once it does, it will have the local name Ruby, Pagasa said..

    With the typhoon moving west-northwest at 30 kph, there is a 60 percent chance it will make landfall on Saturday afternoon or evening somewhere near Borongan, Eastern Samar, and cut across Eastern Visayas.

    There is a 40 percent chance, however, that Ruby will curve north toward Japan and not hit Philippine land at all, Pagasa said.

    Ruby is likely to come ashore either on Saturday afternoon or early evening with 160 kph winds and gusts of up to 190 kph.

    It is expected to bring moderate to heavy rainfall of up to 20 mm per hour, and residents have been warned to watch out for flash floods and landslides.

    Although not as powerful as Yolanda, the new typhoon could still cause massive devastation, Pagasa said.

    Malacañang is not taking chances, and as early as Wednesday ordered the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) to prepare for the typhoon’s onslaught.

    “The NDRRMC and its local units have been directed to begin preparations so that we will have zero casualty,” said Presidential Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. in a text message.

    Last year, the Aquino administration was blamed for not preparing enough for Yolanda, which left more than 6,000 dead and 1.4 million families homeless.

    Most of the victims still live in temporary houses built by the government pending their transfer to permanent settlements.

    The Department of Budget and Management (DBM) announced that various government agencies have P4.69 billion in Quick Response Funds (QRFs) they can readily access when emergencies or disasters strike.

    Among the agencies with QRFs are Department of Agriculture (P406 million); Department of Education (P564 million); Department of Health (P500 million); Department of National Defense (P448 million); Office of Civil Defense (P764 million); Department of Social Welfare and Development (P1.01 billion); and Department of Transportation and Communications (P1 billion).

    The agencies “can use these funds to mobilize the necessary resources and manpower to extend relief and immediate assistance to victims,” Budget Secretary Florencio Abad said.

    The government can also draw from the 2014 National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Fund (NDRRMF) to deal with the aftermath of Hagupit if it hits the Philippines.



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