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Another typhoon coming

‘Santi’ exits but red alert remains, says Malacañang

Manila, Philippines — Typhoon “Santi” has left the country after causing death and destruction in parts of Luzon, but the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) will remain on “red alert” as another weather disturbance may hit the country, Malacañang said yesterday.

The Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical, and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) said yesterday a typhoon internationally codenamed “Wipha” is expected to enter the Philippine Area of Responsibility (PAR) this morning.

Weather Forecaster Fernando Cada said “Wipha” was at 1,430 km east of Northern Luzon as of yesterday afternoon and is expected to enter the Philippine area on Monday morning.

Once inside the Philippine territory, the typhoon would be named “Tino,” the third cyclone to visit the country this month and 20th this year, Cada said.

However, he noted it would only stay briefly in the (PAR) and not expected to hit land in any part of the country. He said it would stay only for a day inside PAR and then would head to Japan.

As government agencies extended relief aid to the thousands of families affected by the storm, Deputy Presidential Spokeswoman Abigail Valte said authorities are closely watching the new weather disturbance.

Valte said at least 13 were killed after Typhoon “Santi” dumped heavy rains in Luzon last week.

Citing an NDRRMC report, Valte said “Santi” affected 46,295 families or 219,591 persons in 11 provinces scattered in Regions I, II, III, and IV-A. She said the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) has started to provide relief assistance to the calamity victims.

She said many people were also stranded in some ports due to the inclement weather. “We appeal for their understanding because we can’t allow sea travel until cleared by the Coast Guard,” she added.

She said authorities are also working to restore power in some areas that experienced blackouts during the storm.

Meantime, Valte said the Department of Health has been mobilized to extend aid to the flood-hit communities affected by leptospirosis in Olongapo.


Over 3,000 Houses Destroyed

Typhoon “Santi” destroyed more than 3,000 houses and caused damaged to more than 13,000 in Region 3, the latest NDRRMC report said.

The NDRRMC said clean up operations are underway in most areas in Central and Northern Luzon affected by the typhoon.

Packing winds of up to 150 per house, “Santi” slammed into Aurora late Friday.

Officials said “Santi” caused massive flooding and landslides in several parts of Central Luzon, ripped off roofs of houses and buildings, and toppled trees.

Of the total affected population, the NDRRMC said 9,168 families or 43,538 people were displaced. Fifty-eight evacuation centers were opened to cater to 1,736 families or 7,421 people.

Also, as of Sunday, the NDRRMC said 1,923 passengers, 26 vessels, 16 rolling cargoes, 16 motorized bancas were still stranded in different ports in Manila, Cebu, Romblon, Mamburao, Camarines Sur, Sorsogon, and Aparri.

Electricity has yet to be restored in some areas that had power interruption at the height of the typhoon, including Tarlac, Pampanga, Zambales, Nueva Ecija, Aurora, Ifugao, and even Infanta and Polilio in Quezon province.


Rice Supply Warning

Meanwhile, Sen. Loren Legarda warned that the country’s rice supply is in serious peril as three of the country’s Top 10 rice granary provinces sustained damages to crops ready for harvest Saturday after Typhoon “Santi” pummeled Central Luzon over the weekend.

Legarda said the situation is similar to the 1995 rice crisis when indecisive stockpiling on the part of the government and the adverse effects of rogue weather systems caused havoc on the country’s rice supply.

Legarda’s observation was based on the Sept. 10 Memorandum for the President by National Economic Development Authority (NEDA) Secretary Arsenio Balisacan who warned of “food security issues” should the government fail to address a projected rice production deficit of as much as 1.4 million metric tons (MT)

Even as Legarda, chairman of the Senate Committee on Climate Change, and Balisacan, director general of the country’s independent socio-economic planning agency, had raised the alarm, Department of Agriculture (DA) Secretary Proceso Alcala has defended his rice self-sufficiency figures, even if these have relied heavily on favorable weather conditions.

“Because of good weather condition, the country can produce 13.03 million MT of milled rice, exceeding the domestic demand of 11.23 million MT,” Alcala said.

Alcala made the statement before floods hit the rice fields of Central Luzon on Saturday. Fifteen thousand hectares of about-to-be-harvested rice fields were damaged in the province of Nueva Ecija.

“We haven’t assessed yet but because of strong winds, our harvestable palay have mostly been damaged,” said Nueva Ecija Gov. Aurelio Umali.

In Bulacan about a 10,000 hectares of ricelands were “totally damaged,” according to Governor Wilhelmino Sy-Alvarado.

The President’s province of Tarlac also suffered a huge blow in its rice-growing sectors particularly in towns along the stretch of McArthur Highway, according to Tarlac’s Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council. (With reports from PNA and Liezle Basa Inigo)