Albay gov blasts PAGASA for 'wrong' forecasts

by Jojo Malig,

Posted at Jul 26 2011 11:17 PM | Updated as of Jul 27 2011 07:46 AM

Albay gov blasts PAGASA for 'wrong' forecasts 1
Rescuers use a rope to help evacuate Albay residents trapped in a flood.
MANILA, Philippines - Albay Governor Joey Salceda on Tuesday lashed out at state weather bureau PAGASA for alleged wrong weather forecasts that led to the death of 10 people in the Bicol region.

In an interview with "S.R.O. sa DZMM," Salceda said PAGASA failed to issue the correct weather bulletins even while tropical storm Juaning was dumping rain and toppling trees in his province.

"Sabi nila (PAGASA), update sila ng update. Update sila ng update ng mali," he said.

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

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

Salceda said the weather bureau's officials did not include Albay on the list of provinces threatened by the storm Monday afternoon.

Storm warning number 1 was finally hoisted over the province later in the evening, when Albay was already feeling the brunt of the storm's impact. "Noong gabi, ginawa pa nilang signal number 1 kami. Iyung sitwasyon, pag-signal number 2 na kami."

"Based po sa patakaran, pag signal number 1, may 72 hours bago dumating iyung peligro. Gagawin ng LGU (local government unit diyan, monitor. Pag signal number 2, ibig sabihin niyan, within 24-36 hours parating na, gagawin namin diyan prepare," he added. "Ang signal number 3, within 12-18 hours, papasok iyan, evacuate."

"Kaninang umaga, 8:30, tinaas ang signal number 2, halos lahat ng tubig bumuhos na," he said.

"The weather here has been stormy from 11:15 a.m. (Monday). May mga tao kaming kailangang ma-reach," Salceda added.

'We have to bury our dead'

Around 472 millimeters of rainwater fell in Albay in 24 hours from Monday to Tuesday, according to Salceda.

"Hindi naman ako nakikipagsisihan. Ayoko rin namang magreklamo, first time nagreklamo ako, wala rin namang repormang nangyari. Wala namang pagbabago, nagkamali ulit," he said.

He said he knew 6 of the people who died in Albay at the height of the storm.

"I feel very strongly. We have to bury our dead. These people, I know all of them personally," Salcelda added.

He said PAGASA should assess local conditions before issuing weather bulletins. "Makinig naman sila sa local conditions, hindi puro tingin ng tingin sa satellite. (Bakit) pa sila naglagay sila dito ng Southern Luzon weather bureau kung di nila papakinggan  mga tao dito?" he asked.

"Local conditions should prompt their satellite imaging. It was raining very hard... how come it can't be factored into their model?" he added. "Let's talk about accuracy of forecasts. Do local conditions matter in making local forecasts?"

He said PAGASA has been discouraging local government units from making decisions based on the state's weather agency forecasts, instead of turning to foreign agencies such as the Japan Meteorological Agency.

"Sumusunod kami sa (PAGASA and not foreign agencies)," he said, adding that forecasts made by their local warning system are also overruled by the national agency.

"(Maniniwala ba ako sa) drawing nila or iyung binabaha na dito hanggang baywang? Kanino ba ako makikinig?" Salceda asked.

He believes that PAGASA should admit its error with regard to the disaster that has struck Albay.

"Hangga't di mo aaminin na may pagkakamali... kung lalong lalakas ang loob mo para gumawa ng mali, wala naman kaming magagawa," Salceda said. "Hanggang doon lang kami sa kanila aasa."