PAGASA faces probe over 'wrong' forecasts

By David Dizon, abs-cbnNEWS.com

Posted at Jul 27 2011 01:37 PM | Updated as of Jul 28 2011 12:24 AM

MANILA, Philippines - After being publicly praised during the recent State of the Nation Address (SONA), the state-run PAGASA weather bureau is facing an investigation for allegedly issuing inaccurate weather forecasts about tropical storm "Juaning."

No less than President Benigno Aquino III said he wants an investigation on Albay Gov. Joey Salceda's claim that PAGASA weather forecasts in Albay and the rest of Bicol region have been inaccurate.

He also said he was saddened by the deaths of 7 people in Albay due to tropical storm "Juaning."

Salceda earlier said PAGASA did not include Albay on the list of provinces threatened by the storm Monday afternoon. He noted that storm warning number 1 was hoisted over Albay Monday night, just as the full brunt of the storm hit the province.
Seven people were killed while the entire province was hit by a power outage Tuesday. More than 100,000 Albay residents also sought shelter in evacuation centers at the height of the storm.

Salceda told radio dzMM that raising Public Storm Warning Signal No. 1 in an area means the local government has 72 hours to prepare before disaster hits.

Storm Warning Signal No. 2 means LGUs have a 24 to 36-hour window to prepare while Signal No. 3 means disaster will strike in 12 to 18 hours.

He said he had to send text messages several times to some PAGASA officials to tell them to include Albay under a storm watch.

"Deep inside, dapat aminin nila, kasi otherwise laging mangyayari ito," he added.

Aquino, meanwhile, said PAGASA has informed him that it issues hourly updates of the weather situation in Bicol. He said PAGASA forwards the hourly weather forecasts to his office.

The President said he wants to know if Governor Salceda is receiving the hourly updates.

He also expressed his condolences to Salceda after the recent death of his mother.

During his SONA last Monday, Aquino publicly praised PAGASA for issuing correct weather forecasts. 

The President said a full investigation of Salceda's claim will determine if PAGASA gave inaccurate weather forecasts that led to deaths in Bicol. Report by Jun Lingcoran, radio dzMM