(19 February 2021)


Led by National Defense Secretary Delfin N Lorenzana, the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council convened its First Full Council for 2021 today, 19 February 2021 to discuss updates on the Tropical Storm (TS) AURING, La Niña, the volcano situation, and other ongoing disaster management initiatives.

First in the line of discussions were updates on TS “AURING” provided by Dr. Esperanza Cayanan of the Philippine Atmospheric Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA).

According to Dr. Cayanan, TS “AURING” is expected to intensify into a Severe Tropical Storm as it approaches the Eastern Mindanao landmass, bringing heavy to at times intense rains to affected areas. This heightens the probability of flooding and landslides in susceptible areas. Tropical Cyclone Wind Signal #1 has been raised over Davao Oriental, Davao de Oro, Agusan del Sur and Surigao del Sur. Warnings on rough seas were also issued over the coastal waters of the eastern seaboard of the country.

According to PAGASA’s projections, the La Niña phenomenon being experienced in the Philippines may extend beyond March reaching until April of 2021. The country can expect a few storms to come within the first half of 2021 but with a lot of rainfall due to the La Niña phenomenon.

Updates on the situation of the Taal, Mayon and Kanlaon volcanoes were presented by Usec Renato Solidum of the Department of Science and Technology. Dr. Solidum reported that all three volcanoes remain under Alert level 1 but close monitoring of volcanic activity continues. The possibility of escalation remains since all three volcanoes are active. He reminded local disaster managers to ensure that all relevant preparations are made in case of a volcanic emergency.

Dir Tecson John Lim of the Office of Civil Defense (OCD) discussed updates from the Technical Working Group (TWG) on the Creation of a National Committee on Dam Safety. The TWG was organized November last year to study revisit existing issuances and protocols fort dam management including the proposal to create a permanent NDRRMC committee on Dam Safety and Operations. The TWG’s recommendation for the creation of inter-agency national and regional committees on Dam Safety was approved by the NDRRMC in this meeting.

The proposed National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Research and Training Institute (NDRRMRTI) was presented to the council by Dir. Susana Juangco of OCD. The institute’s training programs, infrastructure and facilities to rise in New Clark City, Tarlac as designed by OCD’s partner firm: PALAFOX were presented. This was unanimously approved by the council during the meeting.

Results of the Post-Disaster Needs Assessment (PDNA) for areas affected by Typhoons QUINTA, ROLLY and ULYSSES were provided by Dir. Bernardo Rafaelito Alejandro IV of OCD. The report which covers Cagayan Valley Region, CALABARZON, MIMAROPA and Bicol Region detailed the damages, losses and needs in the infrastructure, productive, social and cross sectoral areas. Total estimate of damages were computed at Php 69 Billion. All relevant agencies were encouraged to present their priority programs, projects and activities to bolster the recovery effort which will be funded from the National DRRM Fund.

NDRRMC Executive Director and Civil Defense Administrator, Usec Ricardo B Jalad, reiterated the commitment of the NDRRMC to the recovery of the communities affected by the previous typhoons as well as the continuing effort to protect our countrymen from the adverse impacts of hazards through adequate and proactive preparations.

The council meeting, held via the ZOOM platform, was attended by the heads and representatives of NDRRMC member agencies.