Rain stops work, classes in Metro Manila, 9 provinces-A A +A
Tuesday, August 7, 2012
MANILA (6th Update, 12:11 p.m.) -- President Benigno Aquino III suspended work in both public and private institutions and classes in all levels in Metro Manila and nearby provinces on Tuesday due to inclement weather.
At 9:40 a.m. Tuesday, work in private offices in National Capital Region, Zambales, Bataan, Pampanga, Pangasinan, Tarlac, Laguna, Cavite, Rizal and Bulacan was suspended due to monsoon rains and flooding, Presidential spokesperson Edwin Lacierda said.
Malacañang earlier issued Memorandum Circular 33, signed by Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa, suspending government work and classes from pre-school to college.
"However, agencies whose functions involve delivery of basic services, preparedness/response to disasters and calamities and or the performance of other vital public services shall continue with their operations," the circular stated.
The directive was issued based on the recommendation of the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (Pagasa).
Following the Palace announcement, the Senate, Supreme Court and the House of Representatives also called off work.
"No work in all courts in Metro Manila. EJs (executive judges) to use discretion outside Metro Manila," Court Administrator Midas Marquez said. Justices of the High Court also moved their regular session to Wednesday.
The Philippine Stock Exchange in the financial district of Makati, which was also flooded, said it will remain closed Tuesday, as was the US Embassy along Manila Bay in the historic old city that was drenched out last week when a storm surge pushed the water over the seawall.
"The embassy is closed today (Tuesday) due to excessive flooding in the streets and concern for the safety of our employees and consular applicants," Ambassador Harry Thomas Jr. said in an announcement.
The President visited the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) office Tuesday in Quezon City to oversee government response operations.
Flooded streets in Metro Manila. (Photos by Anna Lyn Talosig/Sunnex)
The President received updates from his Cabinet officials on disaster response and nationwide disaster assessment.
Social Welfare Secretary Corazon Soliman reported that more than 4,000 families are staying in more than 100 evacuation centers.
The government has assisted 119,485 families in 11 regions affected by the flooding, she said.
Soliman told the President that her agency will be needing at least 100,000 relief packs for the flood victims.
Metropolitan Manila Development Authority Chairman Francis Tolentino said isolated areas include Malabon, Camanava, Las Pinas, Paranaque and Pateros.
Local governments of Marikina, Malabon, Navotas, Caloocan and Valenzuela have implemented a forced evacuation of their residents following the rising water due to incessant rains.
Malabon has been placed Tuesday in state calamity, a television report said.
MANILA. President Benigno Aquino III leads the National Risk Reduction and Management Council meeting Tuesday at the NDRRMC office in Camp Aguinaldo in Quezon City. (Gil Nartea/Malacanang Photo Bureau)
The head of the government's rescue agency, Benito Ramos, said there were no immediate reports of fresh casualties early Tuesday after the rains pounded the already-saturated Manila for more than 24 hours.
Vehicles and even heavy trucks struggled to navigate water-clogged roads, where hundreds of thousands of commuters were stranded overnight. Many cars were stuck in the muddy waters.
The Department of Public Works and Highways meanwhile is monitoring national roads that are impassable including areas in Bulacan, Bataan, Batangas, Tarlac, Cavite, Laguna, among others.
Public Works Secretary Rogelio Singson said DPWH is also monitoring the water level in Laguna Lake.
Present at President's meeting were Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa, NDRRMC Executive Director Ramos, Transportation Secretary Manuel Roxas II, Interior and Local Government Secretary Jesse Robredo, Social Welfare Secretary Dinky Soliman, Energy Secretary Rene Almendras, Public Works Secretary Singson, Health Secretary Enrique Ona, Trade Secretary Gregory Domingo and MMDA Chairman Tolentino.
For its part, the Philippine Red Cross has so far rescued a total of 250 individuals in various flood-stricken areas in Valenzuela City, Rizal and Quezon City.
Life-saving vehicles like amphibian, rubber boats, 6x6 trucks and ambulances are on full swing surveying flooded areas and assisting in rescue operation and evacuation of families trapped by rising flood water.
More than 6,000 persons were served with hot meals and 2,000 more were provided with food items in 63 evacuation centers that were visited so far by Red Cross response teams, according to PRC secretary general Gwendolyn Pang.
Pang also said they are now preparing more relief aid for immediate distribution to affected families and blood services are on standby to ensure blood requirements are met as the need arises.
Weather to improve Thursday
Weather forecaster Fernando Cada said Metro Manila remains on red warning as the southwest monsoon continues to bring heavy rainfall in the metropolis.
Red warning is the highest warning level in Pagasa's three-tiered rainfall warning system and signifies need for communities to take the necessary precautionary measures so accidents can be avoided.
The weather bureau issues a red warning when more than 30 millimeters of rain are experienced in an hour and is expected to continue to rise in the next two hours.
Improved weather situation is expected only by Thursday, weather forecaster Julie Nimes said in a separate interview.
"There is no weather disturbance or low pressure area in the country…One of the factors that brought heavy rains in the country is the Typhoon Haikui, which is in southern Japan – this also triggered the southwest monsoon," Cada said in Filipino.
The La Mesa dam, which supplies water to the capital city with a population of about 12 million, spilled excess water for a second time early Tuesday into the rivers flowing into Quezon City, a middle-class suburb, as well as the neighborhoods of Malabon, Valenzuela and Caloocan, where several villages were submerged.
Susan Espinueva, head of Pagasa's hydro-meteorological division, said La Mesa's elevation is at 80.60 meters as of 10 a.m. Tuesday. The gateless dam's overflow level is at 80.15 meters.
"This means there is a strong flow of water in the watershed. We asked those who have evacuated not to return to their homes because the dam's elevation is expected to rise due to bad weather," she said by phone.
Dams outside Metro Manila such as Ipo in Bulacan and San Roque in Pangasinan have also opened gates but the excess water is not enough to cause flooding in communities surrounding them, Espinueva said.
Along the swollen Marikina River, police were deployed to move more than 5,000 residents away from the riverbanks in what Vice Mayor Jose Cadiz said was an enforced evacuation. The operation started after the City Hall sounded the alarm bell.
A radio report, meanwhile, said eight people were trapped in Commonwealth village, Quezon City because of a landslide. A rescue team has already been sent, MMDA Chairman Tolentino.
Ramos said national government agencies are already coordinating with local government units regarding operations needed in view of rising flood waters.
Earlier, he called on army, navy and air force reservists to help in the undertaking.
The death toll from last week's Typhoon Gener (international codename: Saola), which battered Manila and the northern Philippines for several days, has steadily climbed to 53, as of Tuesday morning. (Jill Beltran/Virgil Lopez/PNA/AP/Sunnex)