BATTLE-READY. Rescue teams from the Philippine Coast Guard station in Sta. Ana, Cagayan are ready for dispatch on Saturday (May 27, 2023). As of the 11 a.m. weather bulletin, Tropical Cyclone Wind Signal No. 1 has been hoisted over parts of the province. (Courtesy of PCG Facebook)

MANILA – Tropical Cyclone Wind Signal (TCWS) No. 1 has been hoisted over the eastern portions of Cagayan and Isabela provinces as Super Typhoon Betty maintained its strength, the weather bureau said Saturday.

Betty (international name Mawar), which entered the Philippine Area of Responsibility at 2 a.m., packs maximum sustained winds of 195 kph near the center and gustiness of up to 240 kph.

As of 11 a.m., it was tracked at 1,170 km. east of Central Luzon.

TCWS No. 1 has been raised over Santa Ana, Gonzaga, Lal-Lo, Gattaran, Baggao, Peñablanca, Santa Teresita, Buguey, including Babuyan and Camiguin Islands in Cagayan; and Maconacon, Divilacan, Dinapigue, Palanan, San Mariano, Ilagan City, Tumauini, San Pablo, and Cabagan in Isabela.

The affected areas may experience winds of 39 kph to 61 kph in at least 36 hours, or intermittent rains within 36 hours, the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) said.

In the next 24 hours, the eastern seaboards of Luzon and the Visayas will experience moderate to rough seas, which may become rough to very rough.

The northern seaboard of Luzon may also experience moderate to rough seas until the afternoon, and rough seas beginning Saturday night.

Mariners of small vessels have been advised to take precautionary measures when venturing out to the sea. If possible, they should avoid navigating in these conditions, PAGASA said.

The bureau forecast monsoon rains from the enhanced southwest monsoon over the western section of Mimaropa, the Visayas, and Mindanao on Sunday.

Betty is seen to maintain its strength for the next 36 hours to 48 hours, but a short-term intensification is not ruled out, PAGASA said.

Meanwhile, Philippine Airlines flights PR 437/438 between Manila and Nagoya; and CebGo flights 6881/6882 Manila-Surigao-Manila, were canceled on Saturday due to the weather. 

ALL HANDS. The national government and local governments units are armed and ready for Super Typhoon Betty which entered the Philippine Area of Responsibility on Saturday (May 27, 2023). Department of the Interior and Local Government Director Edgar Allan Tabell, state weather bureau PAGASA officer-in-charge Esperanza Cayanan, Department of Social Welfare and Development spokesperson Assistant Secretary Romel Lopez, and Office of Civil Defense Joint Information Center chief Diego Mariano (from left) enumerated their preparations during the Saturday News Forum in Quezon City. (PNA photo by Ferdinand G. Patinio)

Funds, relief goods ready

At the Saturday News Forum in Quezon City, officials of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG), and Office of Civil Defense/National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRMMC) assured they are prepared to respond to the effects of the tropical cyclone.

DSWD spokesperson Assistant Secretary Romel Lopez said they have allocated more than PHP2 billion worth of relief assistance – PHP597 million readily available funds, PHP525 million quick response funds, PHP500 million worth of family food packs, and PHP819 million worth of non-food packs.

Lopez said the population susceptible to inclement weather is estimated at 1.5 million, consisting of about 88,000 households or families, while there are 294,000 food packs for distribution for three weeks.

Each food box contains rice, corned beef, sardines, instant coffee, and cereals.

“We are here to provide assistance and ready to augment the aid from the local government units (LGUs),” Lopez said.

Early preps by LGUs

Meanwhile, DILG Director Edgar Allan Tabell said LGUs have been preparing the entire week.

“We have been coordinating with them as they are provided with information from PAGASA,” Tabell said.

He noted that some areas have also implemented preemptive evacuation.

“In Batanes and Cagayan, probably today (Saturday), they will start preemptive evacuation and also in other areas in Northern Luzon,” he said.

Tabell advised the public to also look into the possibility of the “habagat” (southwest monsoon) bringing more rain.

Diego Mariano, OCD Joint Information Center chief, said they are in constant coordination with the police, military, Bureau of Fire Protection, and Philippine Coast Guard.

The OCD/NDRRMC has a standby fund of PHP244 million.

Esperanza Cayanan, PAGASA officer in charge, said Betty is expected in Basco, Batanes by Monday.

Blue alert

The province of La Union, meanwhile, is on blue alert (standby) status, along with the other provinces in the Ilocos Region.

In a phone interview on Saturday, Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office warning and dispatch unit chief Michael Angelo Dy Yaco said their equipment and personnel are on standby, aside from their information drive on social media, emergency rescue hotline 911 and evacuation centers.

Agoo town issued an Executive Order instituting a liquor ban during the onset of typhoons, floods, torrents, and other natural calamities; Balaoan temporarily closed tourist destination Immuki Island; and San Gabriel likewise declared Tangadan Falls off limits starting Saturday noon. (With reports from Hilda Austria/PNA)