Secretary Ismael “Mike” D. Sueno of the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) is urging governors and mayors to prepare for La Niña by convening their respective local disaster risk reduction management councils (LDRRMCs) and conducting pre-disaster risk assessments, especially in flood and landslide high-risk areas.
Sueno made the call after the Philippine Atmospheric Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) issued an update based on their continuous monitoring of the development of La Niña in the Central and Eastern Equatorial Pacific. The region constantly exhibits cooler than average sea surface temperatures (SSTs) and PAGASA has been monitoring the possible development of La Niña since May 2016.
While PAGASA projected a “likely weak and short-lived La Niña in either late September or October 2016”, Sueno thinks it is necessary to take precautionary measures in order to mitigate its potential adverse impacts. La Niña is projected to last through the remainder of the year, according to PAGASA.
Sueno, who concurrently sits as Vice-Chairperson for Disaster Preparedness of the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC), advised local chief executives (LCEs) to review their current La Niña Action Plans or Oplan Tag-ulan Plans that were submitted to the DILG field offices and evaluate if local preparedness measures are adequate.
“It is important to establish early preparedness actions for La Niña and prioritize prepositioning of equipment and supplies for response assets,” said Sueno.
PAGASA projected that nine to 15 tropical cyclones will develop or enter the Philippine Area of Responsibility (PAR) until December. There will also be near- to above- normal rainfall conditions in most parts of the country from September to December.
A patch of ‘way below normal to below normal rainfall conditions’ will be expected in November in the western parts of Luzon and Central Mindanao but it is still expected that heavy rains may cause severe flooding and rain-induced landslides in low-lying and landslide- prone areas, respectively.
Landslide warning signage
The DILG Secretary also enjoined provincial governors, city and municipal mayors as well as punong barangays to complement the efforts of the Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) in installing landslide warning signage.
“LCEs, being the chairpersons of LDRRMCs, are encouraged to ensure the preparedness of communities and to take proactive measures in responding to calamities. All landslide-prone areas within their respective areas of responsibility must have warning signage based on the 1:10,000 scale hazard maps for rain-induced landslides from the MGB,” he said.
The Secretary emphasized that LCEs must ensure strategic location of signage by consulting with regional DENR-MGB and they may utilize part of their 70% preparedness fund out of the 5% local DRRM fund for the expenses.
The MGB provided standard specifications for an outdoor landslide warning signage that ought to be fully colored, digitally printed, and with a size of 1.25 x 1.25 meters.