Civil defense official denies gov’t caught flat-footed in ‘Ulysses’ response

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Metro Manila CNN Philippines, November 12)— A civil defense official on Thursday denied that the government was caught flat-footed when it comes to the response to Typhoon Ulysses (international name: Vamco), saying necessary measures have been put in place in preparation for incoming weather systems.

In a media briefing, Office of Civil Defense Assistant Secretary Casiano Monilla said that for the past two days, evacuation efforts were being conducted in typhoon-vulnerable areas. But he claimed there were some residents who refused to heed advisories of local officials.

‘“We were not actually caught flat-footed dito sa event po na ito,” Monilla said.

Kung minsan lang po kasi, ‘pag nag-ikot ang ating mga local officials, ay hindi kaagad sumusunod ‘yung mga kababayan natin," he explained. "Kumbaga mas nagre-rely tayo kung ano ang ating nararamdaman other than the advice na binibigay po ng PAGASA.”

[Translation: We were not actually caught flat-footed by this event. It’s just that sometimes, when local officials roam around, some of our countrymen do not follow. We rely more on our feelings rather than heeding the advice given by PAGASA.]

Monilla said regional officials have already been conducting risk assessment and planning as early as October.

He added that the impact of 2009 typhoon Ondoy (international name: Ketsana) served as a lesson for disaster authorities.

“Since then, nagkaroon na po ng patuloy na pagpaplano," he pointed out. "Na-capacitate ang lahat ng ating local government para sa pagpaplano, sa kanilang execution, at sa kanilang mga contingencies, sila po ay nakahanda.”

[Translation: Since then, we’ve had continuous planning. We capacitated our local governments for the planning execution, contingencies, they are ready.]

Ulysses lashed several parts of Luzon on Wednesday evening through Thursday morning. Its heavy rains accompanied by fierce winds caused massive flooding in some cities and municipalities, submerging houses and cars, knocking off power lines and leaving residents stranded.

The government has since deployed additional forces, including from the military and police, to help augment rescue and relief efforts.

The National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council, meanwhile, said over 196,000 were evacuated preemptively in all regions affected by the typhoon.

It said it is still getting data regarding casualties and injuries. Damage assessment is also ongoing, it added.