A WEAKENED Tropical Storm “Ruby” made its fourth and last landfall at the resort village of Laiya in San Juan, Batangas at 5:45 p.m. and drenched the Southern Tagalog region, including Metro Manila, on its way out to the West Philippine Sea on Monday.
The Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration said it did not expect Ruby to hit Metro Manila as earlier feared but it poured moderate to heavy rainfall of half an inch per hour in areas within the storm’s 450-km diameter.
Pagasa forecaster Jori Loiz said Ruby was estimated at 15 km southeast of San Juan carrying maximum winds of 85 kph near the center and gustiness of up to 100 kph.
Ruby is forecast to move west-northwest at 13 kph and is forecast to be 240 km west of Quezon City Tuesday afternoon, Loiz said.
By Wednesday afternoon it is expected to be 590 km west of Quezon City. By Thursday afternoon, it is expected to be 920 km west of Quezon City.
Maximum sustained winds slowed to 85 kph with gusts of up to 100 kph.
Loiz, however, said the storm will trigger moderate to occasional rainfall to pound Metro Manila.
In Pasay, most of the families in the area have already been dispersed into at least 10 evacuation centers of the city, according to Mayor Antonio Calixto.
Calixto, however, that some families, especially those living along creeks and waterways, refused to leave their homes and opted to stay even with the threat of the typhoon.
Despite the residents’ refusal to evacuate, Calixto said the city government will not force them to leave their homes,
He, howevedr, reminded those people that all relief goods will be distributed only in the 10 evacuation centers.
Over the weekends, Pasay city government has been urging its constituents living along the Tripa de Gallina, Malibay, and Maricaban Creek, to evacuate and go to the nearest 10 evacuation centers that the city has prepared.
The families were given until 5 o’clock in the afternoon of Monday to evacuate their houses.
Given its current strength and forecast development, Ruby is expected to deliver moderate strength winds and rains of around 5-10 mm per hour (moderate to heavy) over the NCR Monday through to Tuesday morning.
In its 5 p.m. advisory, PAGASA also said Ruby and the Northeast Monsoon will cause rough to very rough sea conditions over the seaboards of Luzon and Visayas.
“Fisherfolks and those using small sea craft are advised not to venture out over the said seaboards,” it said.
Ruby is forecast to leave Philippine Area of Responsibility on Wednesday evening.
“Right now (Monday afternoon), we have begun to experience the impact of Ruby in Metro Manila,” he told a 5 p.m. media briefing.
The eye of the storm would move close to the metro Monday between 10 p.m. and 11 p.m.
Loiz warned metro residents living along the waterways and low-lying areas to stay alert against floods and landslides.
Malacañang, meanwhile, advised residents of Metro Manila not to be complacent even if typhoon Ruby has already weakened into a tropical storm.
“Even if it has gotten weaker, we should not be complacent. We should use the time to prepare,” deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte said.
Valte said residents should not make unnecessary trips outside their homes to avoid getting caught in the storm.
So far, Valte said President Benigno Aquino III was satisfied with preparations in the Visayas that was earlier hit by typhoon Ruby.
“The initial reports that we have been getting are encouraging even if we’ve had damages to property because of the strong winds,” she said.
“The good news is that our citizens heeded the call for them to evacuate to prevent loss of lives,” Valte added.
The Palace official also cautioned unscrupulous traders who might take advantage of the situation and illegally increase retail prices of basic goods.
“The Department of Trade and Industry sees no reason for retail prices to increase,” she said.
Valte said the immediate order of the President is for the Department of Public Works and Highways to clear the main roads in affected areas to ensure the smooth transport of relief goods and other supplies.
Interior and Local Government Secretary Mar Roxas, meanwhile, directed all the mayors in Metro Manila’s 17 localities to evacuate informal settlers living along the waterways.
“We advised metro mayors to take the necessary actions,” he said.
He warned of heavy rainfall in the metro due to tropical storm Ruby.
Citing the weather bureau’s bulletin, Roxas said the rise in seawater is estimated to be at 15-30 mm, and that low-lying areas and coastal communities in the metro will be severely affected and require evacuation.
He identified critical areas as Estero de Maypajo, Estero de Sunog Apog, Manggahan Floodway, Pasig River, Maricaban Creek, Tullahan River, Tripa de Gallina, and San Juan River to be most likely be affected by the intense rainfall.
To ensure the safety of the people, he urged local chief executives to coordinate efforts with DILG, he explained.
The local disaster risk reduction and management councils of the cities of Manila, Marikina, Malabon, Navotas, Paranaque andMuntinlupa have already coordinated with their respective DILG branch offices, he noted.
The National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council, as a whole, placed Metro Manila on red (heightened) alert and advised local executives to assess the situation in their respective jurisdiction and implement pre-emptive evacuation if necessary before Typhoon “Ruby” arrives.
“It is safe to say for now that Metro Manila is already on red alert and the President is watching our preparations and efficiency in implementing pre-emptive evacuations,” NDRRMC executive director Alexander Pama said in a press briefing.
Pama said they cannot dictate the mayors on what to do, but can only warned and advise them.H He added that the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) is ready to distribute relief goods.
Pama also reminded local officials not to overlook the basic needs of evacuees at the evacuation centers such as sanitation.
Meanwhile, Armed Forces Chief of Staff General Gregorio Pio Catapang Jr. said aerial surveys by the Philippine Air Force (PAF) was ordered stopped by the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP) because of the typhoon.
Catapang said they are now just waiting for initial assessment report from the teams that conducted aerial and ground surveys in the Samar and Leyte provinces which were first hit by Ruby.
“As of now the airport in Borongan has been cleared from debris and two C-130s are set to bring relief goods and construction materials in thath aprt of the region,” Catapang said.
“Continuous clearing operations are ongoing there,” he added.
In the same briefing, Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) Secretary Rogelio Singson said all their equipment in Metro Manila are ready for clearing operations after the onslaught of Ruby.
The Department of Energy, on the other hand, is expected to restore partial power in Leyte today (tuesday) at the latest, and will begin restoration work in Samar as soon as a situation assessment has been completed, presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda said in a separate statement.
“In the meantime, the Philippine National Police is still maintaining high police visibility, particularly in evacuation centers and commercial areas. As a result, there have so far been no reports of looting, robbery, or assault,” Lacierda said.
At least 16 areas were still under storm signals.
Storm signal no. 2 was hoisted over Metro Manila, Batangas, Cavite, Bataan, Laguna, Southern Quezon, Marinduque, and Northern Oriental Mindoro, including Lubang Island.
Those under storm signal no. 1 were Zambales, Pampanga, Tarlac Bulacan, Rizal, the rest of Quezon, the rest of Mindoro and Romblon.
Meanwhile, a number of banks have opted to either shorten or suspend their operations in Metro Manila on Monday in anticipation of the heavy rains and strong winds brought about by typhoon Ruby.
BDO Unibank Inc., the largest bank in the country, has opened just am handful of its branches in strategic areas in NCR due to inclement weather condition.
The opened branches were those located in its Makati corporate center and SM Makati; SM Megamall B and Strata in Ortigas; Juan Luna branch in Manila; Shaw Boulevard-Stanford in Mandaluyong; Greenhills Roosevelt and Greenhills Shopping Center in San Juan; Capitol Pasig branch; Heroes Hill Quezon Avenue, SM City North Edsa, and Aurora Blvd Notre Dame in Quezon City; SM City Fairview in Novaliches; Grace Park 8th Avenue in Caloocan City.
Other BDO branches opened on Monday were BGC Picadilly Star in Taguig; SM Mall of Asia A in Pasay City; SM Southmall A in Las Pinas; the Madrigal branch in Alabang; James A. Santos in Paranaque City; Taytay Manila East in Rizal; SM Calamba in Laguna; SM Dasma in Cavite; and the Concepcion, Marikina branch.
Unaffected branches in Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao, on the other hand, were on normal banking hours. BDO ATMs and electronic channels were also operational.
Maybank Philippines,on the other hand, shortened the operations of its branches in Metro Manila and nearby areas to 2 p.m. from the usual 3 p.m.
Meanwhile, the rest of its branches were business as usual and ready to serve the banking public.
The Ayala-controlled Bank of the Philippine Islands also shortened its banking hours to 2 pm on Monday in typhoon-affected areas.
The Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas also suspended its clearing operations early yesterday following the announcement by Malacanang of work suspension in government offices in Metro Manila.
In other developmentrs, network services of Smart Communications, Inc. (Smart) and Sun Cellular continue to operate normally in most of the areas hit by “Ruby” even as cellular services in the worst-hit areas of Samar and Biliran have started to normalize.
Smart and Sun said in a statement that mobile phone coverage in the Northern Samar towns of Allen-Londres, San Isidro, Rosario, Bobon, Catarman, Yakal, Mondragon, San Roque, Laoan and Pambujan were restored Sunday evening shortly after the storm passed the area.
Repair work is now under way in the coastal towns of Eastern Samar.
Even though Masbate was hit by the storm, the island¹s capital city and the municipalities were not off. Moreover, service to the eastern towns of Cataingan, Pawican, Palanas, Nabangig, Dimasalang, Uson, and Badling were quickly restored.
All mobile phone cell sites in Romblon are working and operating normally.
Some of our restoration teams and equipment are already on the ground in Eastern Samar, and are already working on restoring services. The sites in Southern Samar: Marabut, Lawaan, Balangiga, Giporlos, Quinapondan, Gen. Macarthur, and Hernani are working and operating normally.
In Metro Manila, Smart and Sun have also set up a free call booth at the Malabon City Hall to service the needs of residents that were evacuated ahead of Ruby’s landfall.
Other teams in other provinces in the Visayas, Southern Luzon, and Northern Mindanao are on standby to provide libreng tawag and charging stations should the need arise.
The telco has already prepositioned equipment and personnel in Central Philippines late last week. It has also deployed mobile phones, Smart satellite phones, and load to libreng tawag coordinators in Central and Eastern Visayas, as well as Northern Mindanao.
At least 25 portable generator sets will be deployed to Northern and Eastern Samar tomorrow to power free charging stations as commercial power in both provinces are out. With Alena Mae Flores and Julito Rada
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