PAGASA on Metro Manila class suspensions: Don't compare cities
MANILA, Philippines – Just because a city in Metro Manila suspends classes doesn't necessarily mean the rest have to follow suit, according to state weather bureau PAGASA.
In a news briefing on Thursday, July 27, PAGASA officials said Metro Manila residents should not be comparing cities to one another in terms of class suspensions, because they may not get the same amount of rainfall and the hazards they face are varied.
The PAGASA officials were responding to questions on the backlash faced by Quezon City Vice Mayor Joy Belmonte, who was criticized online for initially not suspending classes early Thursday morning.
Belmonte had said that she did not want to suspend classes just to jump on the bandwagon, and that she wanted the decision to be based on PAGASA's forecast as well as the city's capability to handle potential effects of the bad weather.
PAGASA Administrator Vicente Malano explained that Thursday's early morning downpour was heavier than usual because the southwest monsoon was enhanced by Tropical Storm Gorio, and there were thunderstorms.
"Kanina kasi malakas talaga 'yung ulan tapos sinisisi 'yung [vice] mayor or DRRM [office] bakit hindi nag-suspend. Eh ngayon kailangan ba mag-suspend? Tignan din natin kung ano ba'ng mangyayari, hindi lang 'yung present na nangyayari... hindi kasi pare-parehas ang epekto ng isang thunderstorm sa isang lugar," he said.
(We really had heavier rain this morning, then people were questioning the decision of the vice mayor or disaster risk reduction and management office not to suspend classes. But in the first place, was there a need to suspend? We also have to look at what could happen, not just what is happening... because a thunderstorm would have different effects on different places.)
A thunderstorm, added Malano, is typically brief.
"Hindi ka dapat mag-base ng desisyon [na] mag-suspend kung thunderstorm lang ang basehan. Kasi mamaya wala na 'yan eh," he said.
(You shouldn't base your decision on whether to suspend classes or not just on a thunderstorm, because it'll be over in a short while.)
"Hindi naman dapat ikumpara eh... Dapat hindi na nga natin sisisihin. Sa atin kasi nagsisisihan tayo, bakit 'yung Quezon City hindi nagpapa-suspend, na sa akin hindi naman kailangan magpa-suspend [for the entire city]," he added.
(We really shouldn't compare cities... We shouldn't engage in a blame game. What happens is we blame one another, we question why Quezon City hasn't suspended classes like the other cities, when in fact, I think there was no need to suspend [for the entire city].)
Thunderstorm won't affect all cities
Pressed further on whether he thought Belmonte's initial decision was correct, Malano said only affected cities or schools could have declared suspensions.
"Kung thunderstorm cell lang 'yung pag-uusapan, hindi 'yung buong Metro Manila ay magkaroon ng baha... So meron nga naman talagang lugar sa Quezon City na bahain talaga," he also said.
(If we're just talking about a thunderstorm cell, the entire Metro Manila wouldn't be flooded... But there really are areas in Quezon City which are flood-prone.)
This was echoed by PAGASA Weather Division chief Esperanza Cayanan, who said it was possible that the Quezon City officials assessed that the thunderstorm wouldn't have disastrous effects.
"Napakalaki ng Quezon City and 'yung thunderstorm, maliit na cell lang 'yun. Maaaring ito 'yung tinitignan nila. Maaaring maliit lang 'yung thunderstorm cell, 'yung ibang areas lang maaapektuhan. So ang pinakaimportante diyan dapat alam nung taga-doon sa Quezon City... kung alin doon nga sa hazard map, kung alin doon ang binabaha... Hindi kailangan i-cancel or i-suspend 'yung classes sa buong Quezon City kung maliit lang naman 'yung thunderstorm cell," she explained.
(Quezon City is so big and the thunderstorm cell is just small. That could be the factor they were looking at. It's possible that since the thunderstorm cell was just small, it would only affect certain areas. So what's important there is for Quezon City residents to know the flood-prone areas based on the hazard map... There's no need to cancel or suspend classes in the entire Quezon City if the thunderstorm cell is just small.)
Both Malano and Cayanan emphasized that cooperation and awareness are key when it comes to dealing with disasters or hazards.
"Hindi lang trabaho ng mayor 'yan, hindi lang trabaho ng principal, trabaho rin ng mga parents 'yun. Kasi merong ibang mga bata na ang layo nung papasukan – 'yun bang dadaanan mo is apektado ba, may baha bang mangyayari? Hindi 'yung sisisihin mo si mayor, sisisihin mo si kung sino, dapat lahat tayo magtratrabaho, hindi 'yung magsisisihan tayo," said Malano.
(That's not just the job of the mayor, that's not just the job of the principal, that's also the job of the parents. For instance, there are children whose schools are far from home – will the areas they pass through be affected, will there be floods? Don't blame the mayor, don't blame whoever, we should all be working, not blaming each other.)
"Lagi tayong nagsisisihan eh... Aralin natin kung ano'ng meron tayo. Nasa panganib ba tayo ng baha o nasa ligtas ba tayo na lugar?" he added.
(We're always blaming each other... We should review our situation. Are we in a flood-prone area or are we in a safe area?)
Cayanan stressed that there are several factors to be looked at. "Kasi bukod doon sa light to moderate rains, kung meron nang ulan for the past several hours at meron pang thunderstorm, alam mo [dapat] kung anong area 'yung talagang binabaha... Alamin din natin 'yung areas natin, lalo na 'yung mga papunta sa eskuwelahan."
(Because aside from the light to moderate rains, if it's been raining for the past several hours and there's also a thunderstorm, you should know which areas really get flooded... We should be aware of our surroundings, especially those heading to school.)
Quezon City officials eventually suspended classes in all levels late Thursday morning, joining other areas in Metro Manila, Central Luzon, and Calabarzon. Malacañang also suspended classes in public schools as well as government work in Metro Manila starting 1 pm. – Rappler.com