Senator Sonny Angara called on all the local government units in the projected path of Typhoon Ambo to activate its standard operating procedures during severe weather disturbances, but putting special emphasis on COVID-19 protocols this time around.
Angara said he is aware of the amount of preparations the LGUs have to undertake whenever they are in the path of a storm but said that the threat of community transmission of COVID-19 must be integrated into their contingency plans “because we don’t want this disease to compound to the problems already being faced by the affected provinces at this time.”
“Alam natin na mahirap ang gagawin sa mga evacuation centers para lang masiguro na hindi kumalat ang COVID-19 sa population. Pero kailangan natin gawin ito dahil ang kalaban natin dito ay invisible at tulad ng nakita na natin dito sa NCR, sobrang bilis ng pagkalat ng virus at marami nang namatay dahil dito,” Angara said.
In preparing the evacuation centers, Angara said that social distancing should still be observed and everyone should be wearing face masks and practicing good personal hygiene.
The challenge to these provinces now will be even greater now that some of its evacuation sites are already being used as quarantine centers for COVID-19.
Angara said the LGUs should look for other facilities that could be used as alternative evacuation sites if possible.
Northern Samar and parts of Eastern Samar are already under Signal # 3 while parts of Bicol Province are under Signal # 2.
The Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology has also issued an advisory on Mayon Volcano in Albay, warning the residents of the area that heavy rainfall due to Ambo could result in lahar flows.
Heavy rainfall is expected over Eastern Visayas and Bicol provinces based on the forecast of the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA).
“This is going to be difficult for sure. But what we are after here is saving lives. We don’t want a situation where we have zero casualties from the storm but end up losing the people we love later on due to this deadly virus,” Angara said.
“The entire nation is praying that Ambo will spare us from severe damages and casualties. We are faced with an extraordinary situation right now with COVID-19, but if we all work together and cooperate, I am certain that we will survive this. We will once again show the world how resilient we are as a people. Mag ingat po tayong lahat,” he added.