Classes called off

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Wednesday, July 16, 2014


CLASSES in all levels are suspended today in Cebu Province and the cities of Lapu-Lapu, Naga and Talisay, but not in Cebu City.

Rains caused by typhoon Glenda as it approached the Bicol Region and Metro Manila yesterday prompted officials in Cebu City and the Province to suspend yesterday afternoon’s classes, to make sure children, teachers and parents got home safely.

Cebu City did not extend the suspension until today.

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In Lapu-Lapu City’s case, consultant Jonji Gonzales said that Mayor Paz Radaza decided to suspend classes today, as well, because “the mayor is concerned that weather might be rainy and a transportation strike might happen, which will give problems to student commuters.”

Cebu City, northern Cebu and Camotes Island were declared under storm signal number one yesterday, while Glenda approached Northern Samar and the Bicol Region.

Packing maximum sustained winds of 130 kilometers per hour near the center and gusts of up to 160 kph, Glenda was expected to hover over Metro Manila this morning, then head for Ilocos Sur tomorrow.

Malacañang reported that 40 provinces, cities and towns suspended classes yesterday and today in seven regions. It also said that 30 domestic flights and four international flights were cancelled.

Nationwide, a total of 5,872 passengers, 33 vessels and 497 rolling cargoes were stranded in various ports.

Rough water in the northern Cebu town of Medellin caused two fishing boats to capsize at 8 a.m. yesterday while docked in the port of Kawit. Medellin Police Chief Insp. Fructoso Lim said the two boats arrived last Monday from Iloilo and were supposed to deliver ginamos (fermented fish) to Cebu City yesterday.

Cancelled trips

In Cebu’s various ports, about 700 passengers were stranded after the Cebu Coast Guard decided to cancel trips as a precaution against rough seas.

Cebu Coast Guard Commander Rodulfo Villajuan said they suspended the trips to Ormoc, Maasin, Leyte, Tagbilaran, Samar, Cadiz City, Catanduanes, Sorsogon, Bantayan Island and Masbate since Monday night. Some 18 fast crafts, motor bancas and cargo vessels cancelled their trips.

“The passengers were already informed. For me it should not be termed as stranded, maybe affected lang yung passengers. They went home and they do understand the situation,” explained Villajuan in a phone interview with Sun.Star Cebu.

He advised barangay captains in coastal areas to check their fishermen and motor banca operator.

“I hope the barangay officials will be the ones to check and they may also declare the cancellation of trips in their areas. This is for everyone’s safety,” added Villajuan.

Cebu Gov. Hilario Davide III announced the suspension of classes at 11 a.m. yesterday. Department of Education (DepEd) officials informed students not to return in the afternoon.

In an interview, Monisit said there will be no classes in the public schools today in the towns under his division. (The component cities have to decide separately.)

Better safe

Naga Public Information Officer Garry Cabotaje also relayed a text message about the suspension of classes today in the southern city.

“It is better to be safe than sorry,” said Dr. Carmelita Dulangon, DepEd 7 director.

Vince Monterde, Talisay City public information officer, said that while the City can only compel public schools to suspend their classes due to the typhoon, they encouraged operators of private schools to do the same.

Monterde is also Talisay’s Local Disaster Risk Reduction and Management officer.

He informed barangay chiefs to stay alert and to inform the City about incidents caused by the storm, adding that heavy equipment and emergency facilities were ready to be deployed.

Cebu City Mayor Michael Rama, in his regular news conference, ordered the suspension of yesterday’s classes starting at noon.

“Heavy rain is coming in. We cannot afford (to risk the safety of the students),” he said. He was worried that children, teachers and their parents would have a hard time going home once it starts to flood.

Rama’s move to suspend classes also came after the recommendation made by the Cebu City Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (CCDRRMC) and the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (Pagasa).

Quick response

As for the private schools, Rama encouraged them to suspend their classes yesterday as well.

CCDRRMC presiding officer Councilor Dave Tumulak said they ordered the barangays to activate their quick response teams in case of landslides or floods. He also asked those living in landslide- and flood-prone areas to be vigilant.

The City Government’s heavy equipment units were sent to Barangays Taptap and Pamutan to respond to emergency needs of the north and south districts, respectively. For the urban barangays, Tumulak said the heavy equipment were stationed in the South Road Properties.

Starting yesterday, the Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office (PDRRMO) also positioned its equipment to enable teams to respond quickly.

Wilson Ramos, PDRRMO executive officer, said they have been advising fishers not to go out in rough weather, as well as reminding local officials about preemptive evacuation in areas near rivers and creeks.

Red alert

The Office of Civil Defense (OCD) 7 is on red alert.

OCD 7 Director Olivia Luces yesterday said they have activated their operations center to keep tabs on the situation in Cebu, Bohol, Negros Oriental and Siquijor.

“Even three days before typhoon Glenda entered the Philippines, we have already alerted our personnel to prepare for any eventuality,” she told reporters yesterday.

The Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) 7, Luces said, has 1,000 stocked relief goods in their warehouse that will be distributed during emergencies.

Lt. Gen. John Bonafos, head of the military’s Central Command based in Cebu, said some 80 personnel in their headquarters are on standby, apart from the personnel in Naval Forces Central, 8th Infrantry Division, 3rd Infantry Division and 2nd Air Division.

Bonafos said they will also deploy soldiers to other regions that will be heavily affected by Glenda, like what they did when super typhoon Yolanda struck large parts of the Visayas last November.

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on July 17, 2014.

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