MANILA, Philippines – (UPDATED) As the country braced for the effects of what could be the strongest cyclone to hit the country this year, President Benigno Aquino III on Thursday, November 7, urged Filipinos not to take chances.
"Magsilbi rin po sanang babala ang pahayag na ito sa ating mga LGU: Seryosong peligro po ang kinakaharap ng inyong mga nasasakupan," Aquino said during an address that aired at around 6:30 in the evening, disrupting primetime television programs. (May this serve as a warning to local government units: Typhoon Yolanda is a serious threat.)
Typhoon Yolanda (international name: Haiyan) entered the Philippine Area of Responsibility around midnight of November 7. Yolanda is expected to make landfall in Eastern Visayas around 8 am Friday, November 8.
Local experts say Yolanda will be stronger than last year's Typhoon Pablo that devastated Mindanao, said Aquino.
9 areas under Signal No. 4
According to the latest bulletin from state weather bureau PAGASA, 9 areas in the Visayas have been placed under storm signal number 4. Close to 54 million people may be affected by Yolanda. (READ: Full list of areas under storm warning signals)
Aquino also appealed to those living in danger zones – along the coast, or those that are prone to floods and landslides – to listen to local authorities.
Preemptive evacuations were conducted from Wednesday evening to Thursday in Albay, Eastern Samar, Western Samar, Leyte, and Southern Leyte, according to National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) chief Benito Ramos.
"Huwag na po tayong sumugal upang hindi na rin malagay sa peligro ang buhay ng ating mga rescuer," Aquino said. (Let's not take chances so that we don't put the lives of our rescuers at risk.)
During the 4-minute address, Aquino also urged LGUs and citizens to visit the official websites of PAGASA, the Mines and Geosciences Bureau, and Project NOAH to understand how their community will be affected by Yolanda.
"Uulitin ko po. Seryosong peligro ito, at maaaring mabawasan ang epekto kung gagamitin natin ang impormasyon upang maghanda," he added. (Again: Yolanda is a serious threat. But the effects of the storm will be reduced if we use information to prepare.)
National gov't preps
Aquino also gave assurances that aid would reach areas accessible only by sea as soon as the typhoon weans. According to PAGASA's latest bulletin, travel by any means – land, sea or air – is dangerous in areas under storm signals.
Three C130s were on standby, said Aquino. Also ready were 32 airplanes and helicopters from the Air Force and 20 Philippine Navy vessels.
Meanwhile, Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin and Interior and Local Government Secretary Mar Roxas will stay in Leyte to lead disaster mitigation efforts.
Addressing a nation that has been through one calamity after another, Aquino asked for cooperation and "bayanihan."
"Alam nating walang bagyong maaaring magpaluhod sa Pilipino kung tayo’y magbabayanihan," he said. (No storm will make the Filipino get down on his knees as long as we help each other.) – Rappler.com