By Rose Anne Dela Cruz
PHILIPPINE chief Director General Oscar Albayalde has placed all Luzon-based police units on full alert to ensure their availability for possible disaster response operations in areas threatened by super typhoon Ompong.
The alert, which went into effect Thursday, is among the many government responses in anticipation of Ompong, which was likened to super typhoon Yolanda. It will be recalled that Yolanda left a trail of death and destruction after it struck Eastern Visas in 2013.
Albayalde said he has activated the National Headquarters 1st Level Battle Staff to ensure effective Command and Control of all PNP disaster response operations. Furthermore, the PNP-SAF, Maritime Group, Highway Patrol Group, Police Community Relations Group, Health Service; and all Regional and Provincial Mobile Forces are likewise placed on Full Alert to ensure their rapid availability for possible disaster response and rescue operations.
These will also augment the police stations that will be affected by the typhoon, Albayalde said during a brief press conference at the PNP Headquarters in Camp Crame.
Aside from raising the alert level, Albayalde also directed all uniformed personnel to first secure their families so they could fully dedicate themselves to the task at hand. He also said the PNP has readied the relief goods for those who will be affected by the typhoon.
At the same time, the country’s top cop has directed all PNP provincial, city and municipal offices, including stations, to be ready in undertaking road clearing operations in coordination with the local government units and the Department of Public Works and Highways, especially along national highways and major thoroughfares to allow unhampered movement of emergency vehicles, troops, equipment, supplies and market commodities.
As this developed, the Armed Forces’ Northern Luzon Command, on Tuesday, has placed on red alert its troops and reservists for humanitarian assistance and disaster response.
According to the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC), Tropical Cyclone Warning Signal No. 1 may be raised over the Cagayan Valley Region as early as today or 36 hours prior to closest approach of the weather disturbance.
This anticipates widespread moderate to heavy rains directly associated with the typhoon possibly by Friday, over Northern Luzon especially over the provinces of Cagayan, Isabela, Apayao, Kalinga, Abra, ILocos Norte and Batanes.
Moreover, NDRRMC Undersecretary Ricardo Jalad said that apart from these areas, the typhoon can cross the Philippine Area of Reponsibility line including areas in Visayas, MIMAROPA, region 9 and Northern Mindanao and CARAGA due to its wide scope. He also said, that during the pre-disaster risk assessment meeting on Wednesday, they have talked about the dam monitoring and pre-emptive evacuation to ensure zero casualty.
Jalad added that that despite Typhoon Mangkhut’s (Ompong’s international name) strength likened to Yolanda, it is still far from being one.