The Makati City government on Monday reminded its constituents of protocols on suspension and cancellation of classes as school opening and the rainy season begins this June.
“I would like to remind Makatizens that the city strictly follows protocols in suspending or cancelling classes, contained in City Ordinance No. 2017-024. This will allow us to make timely announcements which will spare the students from exposure to possible dangers posed by inclement weather, such as being trapped in flashfloods,” Mayor Abigail Binay said in a statement.
Makati was the only local government in Metro Manila not to declare a suspension of classes despite heavy rains and flash floods caused by Tropical Storm “Domeng” as it exited the Philippine Area of Responsibility on Sunday.
However, the Office of the Executive Secretary suspended all work in the executive branch of government and classes in all school levels in the National Capital Region—including Makati—at 3pm as the downpour continued throughout the day.
“The safety of the students remains of paramount importance to us. However, we will only suspend and cancel classes if necessary. Again, may I just remind Makatizens that the strict protocols we follow are supported by reliable weather monitoring and flood monitoring systems we have put in place in Makati, aside from weather bulletins issued by the national government,” Binay added.
Enacted in February 2017, City Ordinance No. 2017-024 adopted protocols to be followed in the suspension or cancellation of classes in the absence of a typhoon warning signal.
These protocols were developed by the Makati Disaster Risk Reduction Management Council in coordination with the Department of Education, Commission on Higher Education, and other concerned agencies, as embodied in the city DRRMC Resolution No. 2016-09 Series of 2016.
Binay said classes are automatically suspended or cancelled when the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration issues typhoon warning signals.
However, in case of rains brought by the southwest monsoon or “habagat,” it is the local chief executive who is tasked to initiate the suspension or cancellation of classes.
“When PAGASA does not issue typhoon warning signals, it is my call to suspend or cancel classes, and the protocols Makati follows are designed to aid me in making timely and informed decisions,” the mayor said.
Under the ordinance, the city’s Emergency Operation Center or C3 should regularly monitor weather advisories from PAGASA, including rainfall and low-pressure areas, usually issued at 5am, 11am, 5pm, and 11pm.
The EOC must also closely monitor regular updates of weather forecasts, and flood water levels in schools and barangays.
For rainfall, the EOC should monitor forecasts from Climate X website of the Department of Science and Technology, which provides area-specific forecast and four-hour rainfall projection.
For flood water level monitoring, the EOC should coordinate through radio or phone with the designated point persons of priority flood-prone barangays. These include Carmona, Olympia, Tejeros, Singkamas, La Paz, Sta. Cruz, San Antonio, Palanan, San Isidro, Pio del Pilar, Bangkal, Rizal, Comembo, and Guadalupe Viejo.
Subsequently, the EOC personnel on duty should submit a consolidated report to the city Disaster Risk Reduction and Management officer. However, any critical observation made at any time during the monitoring must immediately be reported to the DRRM officer.
Crucial time of initial reporting to the city DRRM officer for the cancellation of the morning (AM) shift classes is at 1am, and for afternoon (PM) shift classes, 6am. For final reporting, crucial time is 4am for AM shift classes, and 10am for PM shift classes.
The weather information report will serve as basis for the DRRM officer to recommend to the mayor the cancellation or suspension of classes.
Classes may be cancelled or suspended when the amount of rainfall already reaches or exceeds 7.5 millimeters per hour (heavy to torrential rainfall), or when the water level in the area reaches 0.2 meters when flooding is already possible.
Meanwhile, Section 2 of Executive Order (EO) No. 66, Series of 2012 issued by Malacañang mandates that announcements to be made by local chief executives as chairmen of the local DRRMC concerned shall be made not later than 4:30am of the day of the intended cancellation of classes and work, or not later than 11am for afternoon classes and work.
It shall be announced through diverse mass media, particularly radio and television, landline communications and other technologies for communication within the community or locality.