PBBM surveys damaged areas, mobilizes gov’t agencies to extend aid
The strongest typhoon to hit the Philippines this year left at least six people dead, authorities said Monday, after heavy rain and fierce winds battered Luzon.
Typhoon Karding (international name: Noru) toppled trees, knocked out power, and flooded low-lying communities as it swept across Luzon on Sunday and Monday.
President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. rattled off orders to several departments and agencies to bring aid after he surveyed the affected areas — mostly provinces in Central Luzon where the storm passed over on its way out to the West Philippine Sea — via helicopter on Monday morning.
The Department of Agriculture said the storm damaged P141.38 million worth of crops, based on initial estimates.
There have so far been no reports of widespread severe damage from Karding, which hit the country as a super typhoon.
“We were ready for all of this,” the President told a briefing with disaster agencies.
“You might think that we overdid it. There is no such thing as overkill when it comes to disasters.”
Five of the fatalities were rescuers who were sent to help flooded residents in San Miguel municipality in Bulacan province (see related story on A1 – Editors).
The sixth death was an elderly man who was hit by a landslide in Burdeos municipality on the Polillo islands, part of Quezon province, where the storm made landfall, said Garner Jimenez from the local civil defense office.
Marcos flew over disaster-stricken areas to see the extent of the damages brought by the typhoon after a situation briefing by the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) held at the Office of Civil Defense.
The DA said its initial damage assessment covers 16,229 hectares of land in the Cordillera Administrative Region (CAR), the Ilocos Region, Central Luzon, and Calabarzon, as of noon Monday, Sept. 26.
This translates to a volume of production loss of 5,866 metric tons (MT) of commodities such as rice, corn, and high-value crops, affecting 740 farmers.
The province of Nueva Ecija on Monday declared a state of calamity due to the devastation of Typhoon Karding.
In Resolution No. 82-S-2022, the Office of the Sangguniang Panlalawigan said the Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (PDRRMC) recommended raising the state of calamity in consideration of the “huge damage and destruction” sustained by the province from the typhoon.
Meanwhile, the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) set aside P1.1 billion for its disaster response and assistance to people affected by Typhoon Karding, its spokesperson Romel Lopez said Monday.
This was apart from the Government Service Insurance System saying it was ready to open its emergency loan program to assist members affected by the storm, and Catholic charity arm Caritas Manila calling on the faithful to help the victims through donations.
House Assistant Minority Leader and Gabriela Partylist Rep. Arlene Brosas also appealed to the Marcos administration to grant a P15,000 production subsidy to farmers, especially in the wake of typhoon Karding’s damage to farmlands.
At the NDRRMC briefing, Energy Secretary Raphael Lotilla said that aside from Nueva Ecija and Aurora, other provinces facing power supply problems are Tarlac, Zambales, Pampanga, and Quezon.
Although main generation plants were spared by the typhoon, Lotilla said several areas remain without power.
Marcos said until power is restored, the Department of Energy should put stopgap measures, such as generators, in place.
The President also told the National Irrigation Administration and the Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System to be cautious in releasing water from both Ipo and Magat dams to prevent widespread flooding.
In the same briefing, Social Welfare Secretary Erwin Tulfo brought up this plan for permanent evacuation centers that are separate from schools to be built.
“We really need to have an evacuation center in every municipality, especially in flood-prone areas,” he said (see related stories on A1 and A3 – Editors).
President Marcos pointed out that the early coordination between national and local governments, especially during evacuation efforts, was crucial to prevent untoward incidents from happening.
He said local officials did a good job, providing updates on the situation and identifying what steps needed to be taken.
“We found some areas that are still inundated,” said Marcos on Twitter, where he mentioned flying over the provinces of Bulacan, Nueva Ecija, and Tarlac.
Generator sets with fuel would be sent to Nueva Ecija and Aurora province, he added.
“But generally, the damage to public and private infrastructure is manageable. Government services are almost at full function. Main road thoroughfares are passable, communication is up and running,” he said.
Moments before the inspection, President Marcos said he would not land in any place so that local authorities can focus on relief efforts without having to welcome him.
The Philippines is regularly ravaged by storms, with scientists warning they are becoming more powerful as the world gets warmer because of climate change.
Karding smashed into the country Sunday after an unprecedented “explosive intensification” in wind speeds, the state weather bureau said earlier.
It made landfall about 100 kilometers northeast of Manila, before weakening to a typhoon as it crossed a mountain range, coconut plantations, and rice fields.
Nearly 75,000 people were evacuated from their homes before the storm hit, as the meteorology agency warned heavy rain could cause “serious flooding” in vulnerable areas, trigger landslides, and destroy crops.
But on Monday there was no sign of the widespread devastation many had feared, as the storm moved over the South China Sea towards Vietnam.
Aerial footage taken during Marcos’s inspection flight over central Luzon showed rivers that were swollen or had burst their banks and patches of farmland under water.
Burdeos municipality on the Polillo islands bore the brunt of Karding.
Ferocious winds ripped off some roofs and brought down large trees while heavy rain flooded riverside houses, said Ervin Calleja, a 49-year-old teacher.
“It was really worrisome,” Calleja said by phone.
“The wind was whistling, and it had heavy rains. That’s the more dangerous part.”
Flimsy houses along the coast were damaged and some crops were wiped out.
“Here at the town center all banana trees were flattened, 100 percent,” said Liezel Calusin, a member of the civil defense team in Polillo municipality.
“We still have no electricity, but the phones are working.”
In Banaba village near Manila, Terrence Reyes fled his riverside home with his family and neighbors as floodwaters rose during the storm.
They returned home Monday to find their belongings sodden and caked in mud.
“We just have to throw them away and start over again,” Reyes, 25, said. “It happens each time there is a storm here.”
The Philippines — ranked among the most vulnerable nations to the impacts of climate change — is hit by an average of 20 storms every year.
Karding’s westward track — moving at 30 km/h and packing maximum sustained winds of 140 km/h near the center – took it out of the country’s area of responsibility by Monday night.
NDRRMC spokesperson and Office of Civil Defense Assistant Secretary Bernardo Rafaelito Alejandro IV said the authorities have evacuated 52,000 persons, with casualties reported in Bulacan and reports of missing people in Camarines Norte.
Bernardo also said the NDRRMC has received reports about power interruption in Quezon and Camarines as well as intermittent communication lines in Quezon.
The NDRRMC spokesperson also said around 43 seaports have suspended operations, but he is hoping these will resume once the typhoon and gale signals have been cleared.
He also said that around 2,882 passengers have been stranded in Calabarzon, Mimaropa, and Bicol regions so far and that these persons
will resume their travels once the Coast Guard allows the resumption of ship movements with the improving weather conditions.
Local banks closed several branches on Monday due to Typhoon Karding, but maintained that online channels were available for their clients.
Banks that released advisories regarding Karding were:
* Bank of the Philippine Islands (BPI) – All branches in the National Capital Region, the Cordillera
Administrative Region (CAR), and Regions I, II, III, IVA (Calabarzon), IVB (Mimaropa), and V were closed. Clients were advised to use BPI Online and the BPI mobile application.
* Land Bank of the Philippines – Only select branches in Luzon were open, while all branches and branch-lites in the Visayas and Mindanao remained open, except for the Bongao branches due to a local holiday.
* Metropolitan Bank & Trust Co. (Metrobank) – Affected branches in northern and southern Luzon were closed on Monday, Sept. 26. The Metrobank mobile application, automated teller machines (ATM), and cash acceptance machines (CAM) remained online and available.
* Rizal Commercial Banking Corp. (RCBC) – Branches in the Cordillera Administrative Region, Region I, Region III, Albay, Camarines Sur, Quezon, and select branches in Laguna were closed. Clients were urged to do banking transactions online with RCBC Digital.
*Security Bank Corp. –Select branches suspended banking operations. Branches not affected by Karding remained open, and ATMs, online operations, and the DigiBanker remained available.
Over the weekend, Marcos approved the suspension of classes in public schools and work in government offices in several areas across Luzon.
The Philippine Stock Exchange (PSE) also suspended trading and the clearing and settlement in the Securities and Clearing Corporation of the Philippines.
More than 40 flights were canceled at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport on Monday due to bad weather brought about by the typhoon.
“As of today, there are 39 domestic flights and two international flights that were canceled,” said Manila International Airport Authority acting general manager Cesar Chiong.
Suspended domestic flights include those going to and from Cebu, Davao, Basco, Legazpi, Cagayan, Zamboanga, Caticlan, General Santos, Tacloban, Butuan, Iloilo, Bacolod, and Puerto Princesa.
Also canceled were two international flights of Philippine Airlines (PAL) from Singapore and Denpasar.
A total of 8,642 personnel from the police force and 11,619 Bureau of Fire Protection officers were deployed to assist local government units in their disaster relief operations in the communities affected by Karding.
Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) Secretary Benjamin Abalos Jr. said half of them were dispatched to evacuation centers while the rest are in vital installations like public markets, gas stations, terminals, warehouses, relief operation centers, and other public convergence areas.
“We thank our PNP policemen and BFP firefighters for their service in the middle of this strong typhoon. The LGUs need all the help they can receive,” Abalos said. – With AFP, Vito Barcelo, and Maricel V. Cruz