Aquino presides over meeting to coordinate response to Typhoon ‘Ruby’

By on December 5, 2014

Pres. Benigno Aquino III presides the NDRRMC briefing for Supertyphoon 'Ruby' (International name 'Hagupit') (Malacanang Photo Bureau)
Pres. Benigno Aquino III presides the NDRRMC briefing for Supertyphoon ‘Ruby’ (International name ‘Hagupit’) (Malacanang Photo Bureau)

MANILA — President Benigno S. Aquino III on Thursday presided over a National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) meeting in Camp Aquinaldo to coordinate government efforts to mitigate the impact of Typhoon ‘Ruby’, which is expected to hit Eastern Visayas on Saturday afternoon.

President Aquino said he wanted concerned government agencies to complete such preparations as evacuating people, putting up emergency facilities as well as prepositioning food and non-food items, before the typhoon hits land.

The Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) said 100,000 family food packs are available at its central warehouse, ready to be airlifted if necessary to assist victims in 50 provinces that could be affected.

The military said two C-130s and several helicopters are ready to transport relief and personnel if there is a need. It also said its engineering battalions are on standby and ready to move in for clearing operations or repair of major facilities.

The military further said it will submit to the President a plan detailing its possible response to prevent looting incidents, such as what happened in the aftermath of Typhoon ‘Yolanda’ last year.

Undersecretary Alexander Pama of the Office of Civil Defense (OCD) meanwhile said his office has designated first responders from other regions to take over the function of responders in affected areas who might not be able to operate once the typhoon is over.

Responders from other regions will take over within 24 hours if personnel from devastated areas fail to do their duties, he said.

Pama said the Department of the Interior and Local Governments will oversee the preparations, in coordination with the DSWD, and the two agencies have already come up with a plan in case Typhoon ‘Ruby’ makes landfall on Saturday.

The OCD, he said, has also mobilized regional and national volunteer groups from the private sector who have signified their intention to assist the government.

A database has been set up listing these volunteer organizations, along with the kind of help and material donations they are willing to extend.

Telecommunications companies (telcos) and fuel distributors have also made a commitment to provide assistance, Pama said, adding that telcos have prepared mobile cell sites that could be used after the typhoon.

Typhoon ‘Ruby’, with sustained winds of more than 200 kilometers per hour, has been categorized as a super typhoon. It has slowed down but has increased its strength.

According to the weather bureau, it will make landfall on Saturday afternoon, much later than earlier projections.

Weather forecasters said rainfall will be experienced in the eastern part of Visayas and the Bicol region on Saturday. They also said that Eastern Visayas is vulnerable to storm surges as high as three to four meters.