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Gorio leaves Metro Manila flooded, classes suspended

Residents of Barangay Tatalon in Quezon City wade through floodwaters spawned by Tropical Storm Gorio yesterday. BOY SANTOS

MANILA, Philippines - A fisherman went missing in Lingayen Gulf as heavy rains spawned by Tropical Storm Gorio caused widespread flooding in Metro Manila yesterday, prompting local government units to cancel classes, despite some initialconfusion.

The fisherman was identified as Rodolfo Padilla, 43, of Barangay Catbangen, San Fernando City, La Union.

Police said Padilla’s boat capsized and the incident was witnessed by his nephew, Edgar Cabradilla, who went fishing with him in a separate motor boat despite the bad weather. Authorities started search and rescue operations for Padilla.

Malacañang suspended work in government offices and classes at all levels of public schools in Metro Manila in the afternoon. It said suspension of work in private companies and classes in private schools was up to their respective heads.

The Supreme Court also ordered suspension of all local courts in Metro Manila in the afternoon.

Prior to the suspension order of the Palace, classes at all levels of private and public schools were suspended in Caloocan, Las Piñas, Malabon, Mandaluyong, Manila, Marikina, Muntinlupa, Navotas, Pasay, Pateros, Quezon City, San Juan and Taguig.

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Valenzuela City only suspended classes in public and private schools up to senior high school.

A Bureau of Fire Protection officer inspects a vehicle damaged by a tree in Barangay Laging Handa in Quezon City that was toppled by strong winds brought by Tropical Storm Gorio. BOY SANTOS

Outside Metro Manila, among those that suspended classes in all levels were the provincial governments of Cavite, Zambales, Pampanga and Bataan. Classes were also suspended in parts of Rizal, Bulacan and Laguna.

The Office of the Civil Defense (OCD) said gutter- to knee- and waist-deep floodwaters were reported in Malabon, Navotas, some areas in Manila, Quezon City, Caloocan, Pasay, Makati and Valenzuela.

OCD administrator and National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) executive director Ricardo Jalad said floodwaters in areas within the metropolis receded before noon.

However, the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) said more rains could be expected today until the weekend.

It said Gorio slowed down but maintained its strength and could intensify into a severe tropical storm within the next 24 hours. Its tracked location as of 3 p.m. yesterday was Casiguran, Aurora or 625 kilometers east of Tuguegarao City.

“It will enhance the southwest monsoon which will bring moderate to occasionally heavy rains over the western section of Luzon, including Metro Manila. It is also expected to bring light to moderate rains over the rest of Luzon and the Visayas,” PAGASA said.

PAGASA said Gorio has estimated maximum winds of up to 90 kilometers per hour and gustiness of up to 115 kph. It is expected to leave the Philippine area of responsibility by Monday. 

Metropolitan Manila Development Authority chairman Danilo Lim said all pumping stations were functioning and would be useful in times of disaster.

PAGASA also warned of flooding in Central Luzon, Ilocos region, Cordillera Administrative Region, Calabarzon, Mimaropa, Bicol and Western Visayas.

To suspend or not to suspend

In Quezon City and Makati, local officials received flak for not suspending classes early because the forecast was that rains would be light to moderate.

Quezon City Vice Mayor Joy Belmonte apologized to the residents but said the city government acted in good faith.

“I’m sorry because the mothers and the children had a hard time and got drenched. We did not want that. I apologize and take full responsibility and accountability,” Belmonte said.

PAGASA sided with the decision of the Quezon City government, which later canceled classes in all levels both in public and private schools.

Makati City, in a Facebook post, gave parents the prerogative to decide whether to send their children to school or not but this did not sit well with some residents.

PAGASA administrator Vicente Malano said LGUs could suspend classes based on the condition in their respective areas.

In case of thunderstorms, he said “rains suddenly pour but will also stop fast.”

But Encarnacion Cayanan, PAGASA weather forecasting chief, said officials should check the hazard map and monitor areas where floodwaters immediately go up.

“The authorities should be familiar with this and their disaster risk reduction management officers should also closely coordinate with PAGASA. Even parents should also do their part and familiarize themselves with the location of the school of their children,” Cayanan said.

Two domestic flights were cancelled because of the weather. The Philippine National Police and the National Capital Regional Police Office were placed on alert and rescue teams were deployed to help affected residents.

The Department of Social Welfare and Development also said it was on blue or second stage of alert due to the storm.

In Malolos City, officials said Bustos Dam had been releasing 82 cubic meters of water per second because of the storm and one gate had to be opened up. – With Janvic Mateo, Rhodina Villanueva, Romina Cabrera, Non Alquitran, Rainier Allan Ronda, Rey Galupo, Ghio Ong, Edu Punay, Alexis Romero, Rudy Santos, Emmanuel Tupas, Ramon Efren Lazaro, Jun Elias, Ric Sapnu, Marvin Sy

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