‘Pablo’ now over Palawan; storm signals lowered-A A +A
Wednesday, December 5, 2012
MANILA (3rd Update, 12:31 p.m.) -- Typhoon “Pablo” (international codename: Bopha) is now over Northern Palawan in Luzon but six areas in the country are still under public storm warning signals.
The Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (Pagasa) said in its latest bulletin that Pablo slowed down and weakened slightly while moving away from the country as of 10 a.m. Wednesday.
Public storm warning signals elsewhere were lowered, but Northern Palawan, including the Calamian Group of Islands remained under signal number 3, while the rest of Palawan was placed under signal number 2.
Signal number 1 was hoisted over the provinces of Oriental Mindoro, Occidental Mindoro and Lubang Island.
Pagasa said Typhoon Pablo is now packing maximum winds of 120 kilometers per hour (kph), as compared to the 130 kph recorded at 9 a.m. Wednesday. Its gustiness is now up to 150 kph from 160 kph. The typhoon’s diameter was also reduced to 400 kilometers from 500 km Wednesday morning.
Weather forecasters said Pablo may exit the Philippine area of responsibility Thursday or Friday. It is forecast to be at 470 km west of Calapan City in Oriental Mindoro by Thursday morning, and 610 km west of Dagupan City in Pangasinan by Friday morning.
Pablo made a landfall in Baganga, Davao Oriental around 4:45 a.m. of Tuesday, bringing heavy rains and strong winds in almost all part of the country, particularly in Visayas and Mindanao.
One of the hardest hit areas is Compostela Valley, where at least 66 people were confirmed dead.
Compostela Valley Governor Arturo Uy told Sun.Star Wednesday that 60 bodies were recovered in New Bataan town, while 245 others remain missing. In Montevista town, six persons were confirmed dead.
The province of Davao Oriental, where the typhoon made a landfall Tuesday morning, also suffered numerous casualties.
Unofficial and unconfirmed reports coming from officials in the province claimed that in Baganga town, 31 bodies have been recovered so far and 51 were injured.
In Boston town, 15 people were also reported to have died.
On Tuesday, there was also one confirmed death in Tarragona, one in Manay, three in Caraga – all in Davao Oriental, bringing the total number of deaths in the two provinces to 111 as of Wednesday noon, according to local authorities.
In the official count of the Office of Civil Defense as of 7 a.m. Wednesday, however, there are only 82 confirmed deaths, with 24 still missing.
Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) Secretary Manuel Roxas II also gave the same count, citing that 49 persons died in a mudslide in New Bataan in Compostela Valley, while 33 were killed in Davao Oriental.
The National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC), however, only placed the death toll at 77.
NDRRMC Executive Director Benito Ramos said 77 were reported dead due to Typhoon Pablo but only 14 were identified. At least 35 others were injured while six remain missing.
Ramos explained the discrepancies in the death tolls, saying the NDRRMC is following certain procedures in confirming reports coming from the ground and concerned agencies.
State of calamity
Mati City and Compostela Valley, meantime, have already been declared under state of calamity.
Mati City Mayor Michelle Rabat said though they have no deaths compared to other neighboring towns, the city still suffered damages in agriculture and properties.
“Mati has weathered the storm, our people are okay,” Rabat said.
Compostela Valley Representative Maria Carmen Zamora, for her part, urged her constituents to remain strong amid the trials.
“For all of us facing the wrath of this storm, as it battered down on us, this storm will never dampen our faith and spirit. We must remember that we will see sunlight after this, and we must continue to stand strong in helping one another. Our houses and our fields may be flooded, but we will share with each other the shelter we have over our heads, so that we may emerge from this storm one in our faith and trust in each other, ready to rebuild and to rise again,” she said.
The Davao City Government has provided assistance to the people of Davao Oriental.
Mayor Sara Duterte said the city has sent 5,623 food packs to Davao Oriental, along with the assistance from the Department of Social Welfare and Development.
She said she temporarily ordered a stoppage on their food for work program to be able to send help to the typhoon victims in nearby provinces.
"I told them to discontinue food for work and get all the available grocery packs, submit a justification and a revised activity design to use the packs," said the mayor.
The city is yet to send financial assistance to Davao Oriental since the province has not yet declared a state of calamity.
"The areas should be declared in a state of calamity for us to send financial assistance using disaster funds. As of yesterday pm, wala sila nagdeclare," the mayor said.
"All other previous use of calamity funds for assistance were based on calamity declaration, that’s the only time we can use the fund," Duterte said.
Vice President Jejomar Binay, for his part, said he will fly to Davao and Compostela Valley on Thursday to inspect the damage and extend assistance to those affected by Pablo.
“Based on our experience during Tropical Storm Sendong, we will have to coordinate all the government efforts, so that we can ensure fast and efficient service,” Binay said, adding he will have meeting with the DILG and the Department of Social Welfare and Development on how to handle the relief efforts.
He said his office will distribute 5,000 bags of goods in Davao Oriental, Davao del Sur and Compostela Valley. The bags contain noodles, biscuits and canned goods.
The National Housing Authority, which is under Binay’s supervision, will provide materials for the repair of damaged houses while the Home Development Mutual (Pag-Ibig) Fund will offer calamity loans and provide insurance to its members.
A Pag-Ibig calamity loan is equivalent to 80 percent of the member’s total savings as it now carries a yearly interest rate of 5.95 percent, compared to the previous 10.75 percent.
Binay also appealed to the private sector to help in providing relief goods to those in the evacuation areas. (BOT of Sun.Star Davao/Emmanuel Louis Bacani/Virgil Lopez/Sunnex)