Mayor on suspensions: We followed the rules-A A +A
Sunday, August 25, 2013
MAYOR Mauricio Domogan maintained on Wednesday his declaration of class suspension on Monday for preschool and elementary levels only at the height of the monsoon rain induced by Tropical Storm Maring was based on existing rules giving local chief executives the authority to decide on whether or not to cancel classes or work in government offices.
Confusion arose Monday when the mayor’s declaration conflicted with the directive issued by National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council Executive Director and Civil Defense Administrator Undersecretary Eduardo Del Rosario suspending classes in all levels in Benguet province.
The undersecretary later clarified through media sources the directive included Baguio City.
“On our part, we just did our job and followed the rule on declaring class suspensions based on the prevailing weather at that time,” the mayor said.
As an established practice, the mayor announces class suspensions at 5 a.m. through radio stations after conferring with the CDRRMC based on the weather bulletin from the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (Pagasa).
That morning, there was no public storm warning signal nor heavy rain so they felt that there was no need to cancel classes in the high school and college levels, the mayor explained.
When heavy rain came later in the day, the mayor said he decided to stick with his declaration despite Del Rosario’s clarification on Baguio’s inclusion in the directive “because I felt that our students will be safer if they will stay in their schools and finish their classes rather than suspend their classes and let them go home amid the downpour.”
The mayor said he will stick with his practice to make the announcements at 5 a.m. as it is the most appropriate time to gauge the weather.
“We have to be precise. We can’t be too early in making the announcement as the weather can change even with the Pagasa forecasts and we can’t be late at the same time as it will compromise the convenience and health of the students. Apart from this, we can’t also just cancel classes if the weather is not that bad as it is the students and teachers who will also suffer because they are obliged to hold make-up classes even on Saturdays to catch up with their lessons,” the mayor said.
Section 2 of President Aquino’s Executive Order No. 66 “Prescribing Rules on the Cancelation or Suspension of Classes and Work in Government Offices due to Typhoons, Flooding, other Weather Disturbances and Calamities” grants local chief executives to decide on class suspension.
“In the absence of typhoon signal warnings from PAGASA, localized cancellation or suspension of classes and work in government offices may be implemented by local chief executives, as chairmen of the Local Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (LDRRMC) concerned, in coordination with PAGASA and the NDRRMC, specifically in flood-prone or high risk areas,” the section reads. (Aileen Refuerzo)
Published in the Sun.Star Baguio newspaper on August 25, 2013.