AFP on red alert due to 'Chedeng'

Alexis Romero (Philstar.com) - April 1, 2015 - 4:19am

MANILA, Philippines - Military troops in Luzon and Visayas were placed on red alert on Wednesday as the government braces for the impact of super typhoon “Chedeng (international name: Maysak).”

The red alert took effect at 1 p.m. and covers the Northern Luzon Command, Southern Luzon Command, Joint Task Force National Capital Region and the Central Command.

A red alert places all personnel on standby to ensure adequate manpower in case of an emergency. The status entails the cancellation of all leaves.

Other unified commands of the military – the Palawan-based Western Command, the Western Mindanao Command in Zamboanga City and Eastern Mindanao Command in Davao City have been placed on blue alert. The alert status placed half of their forces on standby.

“It is a strong typhoon. We don’t want to have many casualties in this kind of typhoon,” Armed Forces chief Gen. Gregorio Catapang Jr. said in a press conference.

Catapang said security forces are faced with the challenge of securing and evacuating tourists who would visit areas located along the expected path of the typhoon.

“It’s Holy Week and people are going to different places including those that will be hit by the typhoon. They might be caught in harm’s way especially the foreigners,” the military chief.  

“They do not know the location of evacuation centers. These are the areas to be settled in the municipal and provincial level,” he added. 

Catapang said evacuation must be conducted as early as possible, noting that the typhoon is expected to make a landfall this weekend.

"We’ll ask embassies to inform foreigners and tourists coming here that they should have a plan,” Catapang said.

“They should have a plan or else we will have yoyo when typhoon comes in – your own your own,” he added.

Officials have yet to issue a storm surge warning as of yesterday, saying the typhoon was still too far to make such advisory.

They, however, predict storm surges in the eastern coast of Samar, Bicol, Aurora and Quezon.

PAGASA senior forecaster Rene Paciente said the storm surge could be as high as four to five meters, equivalent to a one and a half story building.

“But we do not have a storm surge model yet. There will be a lot of changes,”

National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council Executive Director Alexander Pama advised the public especially foreigners to monitor updates to be issued by the weather bureau. He also urged foreigners and local tourists to heed the warnings of disaster management officials in the area they are visiting.

“We all know that everyone is in holiday mode. We urge the public to remember that the formula for zero casualty is the readiness of the government and the cooperation of residents,” Pama said.

“We do not want to be kill-joy but it is our job to ensure public safety so we have to enforce what should be enforced for the sake of locals and visitors,” he added.

Pama said it would be up to the local governments to decide whether to conduct preemptive evacuation in their respective areas.

He said the military and police are ready to assist local governments that would evacuate people to safer areas.

ACIRC ARMED FORCES AURORA AND QUEZON CATAPANG DAVAO CITY GREGORIO CATAPANG JR. HOLY WEEK JOINT TASK FORCE NATIONAL CAPITAL REGION AND THE CENTRAL COMMAND LUZON AND VISAYAS NATIONAL DISASTER RISK REDUCTION AND MANAGEMENT COUNCIL EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR ALEXANDER PAMA TYPHOON
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