The National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council has advised local governments to evacuate residents living beside bodies of water, especially rivers, in anticipation of typhoon “Bopha.”

“Ang partikular na preparasyon dito, ‘yung mga local responders ready na sila, ‘yung mga tao, na nandun sa paligid, sa gilid ng mga ilog, i-evacuate,” NDRRMC executive director Benito Ramos said in a phone interview Saturday.

Ramos made the call for local governments in the Visayas and Mindanao, which he said might feel the storm early next week.

“Ni-request ko na di lang ‘yung mga municipal gymnasium, kundi pati ‘yung mga eskuwelahan, simbahan, kasama na ‘yung mga sabungan, ‘wag muna magsabong (para matuluyan ng evacuees),” Ramos said.

Local disaster management councils in Regions 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, and Caraga have held conferences in preparation for the storm, he said.

The storm – to be called “Pablo” once it enters the country – was seen 1,690 kilometers east of Southern Mindanao with maximum sustained winds of 165 kph and a gustiness of up to 200 kph, according to the Philippine Atmospheric Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration.

As of 8 a.m. Saturday, the storm was seen moving west at a speed of 20 kph and is expected to enter the Philippine Area of Responsibility early Monday via Eastern Mindanao.

Ramos said it was still “too early” to predict which provinces or cities could be hit, but noted that those in the east experience storms first.

“It’s too early to predict kung alin dito sa mga lugar na ito, dahil meron tayong low-pressure area sa taas ng Taiwan, so that controls the (storm’s) behavior,” he said.

In an advisory Friday night, the NDRRMC said its operations center in Camp Aguinaldo has been placed under “blue alert,” meaning 50 percent of personnel must be at their posts any time.

Ramos said this was to give personnel a “breather” after being on alert for already a month for South Korea’s rocket launch.

The Bicol Regional Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council, in a separate advisory, said it has placed all its members and supporting agencies on “red alert” starting Saturday.

The council held a meeting Saturday to discuss preparations for the storm.

Albay Gov. Joey Salceda, chair of the provincial disaster risk reduction and management council, said in a memorandum that all activities related to the province’s Karangahan Festival will be put “on hold” starting Tuesday in anticipation of the storm.

Evacuation of people will also start that day, he said. (John Roson)

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