DOTr on full alert due to ‘Ompong’
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The Department of Transportation (DOTr) and all its attached agencies and offices are on full alert to ensure the safety of passengers as Typhoon “Ompong” hits the northern part of the country.
Days before the typhoon entered the Philippine Area of Responsibility, Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade had already directed agencies under the DOTr to prepare, be prompt in issuing advisories, and make sure that affected passengers will be attended to in all transportation hubs.
“We are at your disposal. Your government is ready to respond. We can weather the storm, together,” Tugade said in a coordination meeting in Tuguegarao on Friday.
Passenger and cargo vessel trips were cancelled in various ports of the country in anticipation of rough seas. Airlines have been advised to issue timely updates of flight delays and cancellations so as not to further inconvenience passengers.
Public utility drivers were also encouraged to remain at the terminals if and when safety is compromised.
“Sisikapin po natin na tugunan ang pangangailangan ng mga pasahero. Nauunawaan po namin na kalbaryo ang maghintay at matengga sa mga pantalan at airport pero kunting tiis at pasensya lang po ang hiling namin. Para po ito sa inyong kaligtasan (We will do our best in assisting the needs of our passengers. We understand their pain in waiting and getting stuck at our ports, we just hope for their patience. It’s all for their safety),” Tugade said.
In Manila, the Philippine Ports Authority (PPA) transferred stranded passengers at the Manila North Harbor to an evacuation center in Tondo with assistance from the LGU.
In Dumaguete, affected passengers were served hot meals and transported to the city evacuation center amid vessel trip cancellations.
The Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines and the Manila International Airport Authority continue to issue flight advisories.
Apart from disaster response, Tugade gave specific instructions to all heads of agencies to plan out instantaneous restoration of transportation services as soon as the weather clears out.
Upon instructions of President Rodrigo Duterte, Tugade flew to his hometown of Cagayan to personally supervise and monitor ongoing preparations for the typhoon.
As of this writing, Signal Number 3 is hoisted over the provinces of Isabela and Cagayan, based on the latest weather bulletin from PAGASA.
Upon his arrival, the transportation chief immediately addressed the 1,700-strong policemen from the Regional Police Office -2 and reminded them of their duty to augment disaster response measures of the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) in their areas of responsibility.
To make sure that all efforts are coordinated, Tugade also sat down with local officials in a command conference held at the Provincial Capitol of Cagayan.
Tugade said the best and only weapon to combat the storm is adequate preparation.
“Ang bagyo hindi natin mapipigil sa pananalasa pero hindi naman din tayo mapipigil ng bagyo sa paghahanda. Humagupit man iyan o hindi, bukod sa relief goods, may nakahanda tayong cash para ipambili ng mga pinaka-kailangan ng mga kababayan natin. Hindi natin ikakatwiran sa kanila na weekend, walang bangko. Ang tulong dapat agad dumating. Kumbaga sa boy scout, dapat laging handa,” he said.
Tugade is joined by fellow Ilocano, Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) Secretary Silvestre Bello III, DOTr Undersecretary for Aviation Manuel Antonio Tamayo, Assistant Secretary for Procurement Giovanni Lopez and officials from CAAP, PCG, Philippine Ports Authority (PPA), and MARINA. (PNA)