Duterte satisfied with preparations for Typhoon Ompong

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, September 13) — President Rodrigo Duterte has expressed satisfaction with the preparations made by government agencies to buffer the blow of Typhoon Ompong (international name: Mangkhut).

Duterte attended a command conference at the headquarters of the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) Thursday where different government agencies laid down their plans ahead of the typhoon's expected landfall in Cagayan on Saturday, September 15.

He assigned Political Affairs Secretary Francis Tolentino to be his point person or conduit to all agencies for any updates as he would be monitoring the situation in Manila.

The President is also sending Cabinet members to personally see the situation in areas on the typhoon's path. They include Environment Secretary Roy Cimatu, Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello, Agriculture Secretary Manny Piñol, Transportation Secretary Art Tugade, and NDRRMC chief Ricardo Jalad.

Fix communications concern

During the briefing, the President expressed his concern about possible communication problems, suggesting the NDRRMC and all concerned agencies have a central communication line through a radio system.

The Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), meanwhile, gave its assurance that food packs have already been pre-positioned in critical areas, while the Finance Department has ordered the Bureau of Customs to release seized food items to DSWD to help augment its supplies

No fears in rice supply

Amid issues in prices of rice, Piñol told the President the typhoon may cause billions in damage to some crops, but that there was enough rice supply for the next 96 days.

"The impact on our rice supply will only be about 3.6 days," he said.

He also told the President that the prices of rice will stabilize in two to three weeks time

Storm surges, strong winds, floods expected

The Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration's (PAGASA) latest update said the typhoon was located 575 kilometers east of Virac, Catanduanes, and is continuing its path northward.

PAGASA also warned Ompong's hazards include strong winds which could generate storm surges along the northern coastal areas of Cagayan.

The NDRRMC said around ₱1.1 billion worth of prepositioned resources are on standby in Regions I, II, III, and the Cordillera Administrative Region.

These resources include standby funds, food packs, as well as relief items.

The agency has also said they would be releasing water from the Magat Dam and this would likely affect the following areas in Isabela:

  • Ramon
  • San Mateo
  • Aurora
  • Cabatuan
  • Luna
  • Reina Mercedes
  • Burgos
  • Naguilian
  • Gamu

"Malaki po yung sinasabi nating watershed, at maliit lang po yung dam. Hindi po siya nakaka-contain ng malaking volume ng tubig," said PAGASA Administrator Vicente Malano.

He added, the dam only needed 10 millimeters of water before it reaches the danger level of190 meters.

The NDRRMC added within the 125 km radius of the center of the typhoon, around 4.3 million people would be exposed in the provinces of Isabela, Cagayan, Ilocos Norte, Ilocos Sur, Abra, Kalinga, Apayao, Ifugao, and Mt. Province.

"Of this number, 824,100 are poor families," the agency said.

The NDRRMC also bared a framework of response teams to offer aid in areas affected by Ompong.

It would begin with a community response, then the provincial/city/municipal response on the second tier, followed by national/regional response and the third tier, and if necessary, international response.

Earlier, Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said the government was prepared to respond to the onslaught of Typhoon Ompong.

He said ₱1.7 billion worth of food packs and other relief assistance from the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) are now on standby and ready for distribution among areas expected to be hit by the typhoon.

Quick Response Teams and Health Emergency Response Teams will also be on standby in key areas in Northern Luzon, he added.

Watch the NDRRMC command conference here.

CNN Philippines' Triciah Terada, Lara Tan, and Pia Garcia contributed to this report.