MANILA - State weather bureau PAGASA defended the decision of Quezon City officials not to suspend classes despite a thunderstorm advisory on Thursday morning.
PAGASA administrator Dr. Vicente Malano explained that thunderstorms last for 2 to 3 hours and the floods they cause typically subside immediately.
Classes should be suspended, he said, only if a school is located in a flood-prone area.
"Makikita lang natin na bakit hindi nagpapasuspend iyung Quezon City, Manila. Parang kinukumpara e na hindi naman dapat ikumpara. Baka mamaya, wala na iyung lugar na may baha ngayon dahil wala na ang ulan ulit," Malano said in a press briefing.
"Sa akin, hindi naman kailangan magpa-suspend. Sa tingin ko, tama lang din e. Maya-maya lang, wala na ang ulan. Hindi naman tuloy-tuloy ang ulan. Kung hindi lang apektado ang kanilang eskuwelahan hindi na kailangan i-suspend."
The head of PAGASA's Weather Services meanwhile said Quezon City officials may have nixed the suspension of classes because only several areas were affected by the thunderstorm.
"Napakalaki ng Quezon City and ang thunderstorm, maliit na cell lang iyun. Maaaring ito ang tiningnan nila... iyung ibang areas lang ang maaapektuhan," said Dr. Esperanza Cayanan.
On behalf of Mayor Herbert Bautista, Vice Mayor Joy Belmonte on Monday refrained from suspending classes in the city of 3 million even while nearby towns have already cancelled classes.
Belmonte said she and the City Disaster Risk Reduction Management Office (CDRRMO) had been up all night monitoring weather updates to make an informed decision about the class suspension.
"I expect we will be bashed to death later by the public, simply because one cannot please everyone. Earlier Myke (CDRRMO's Michael Marasigan) asked me if we should just be politicians - declare no classes like everybody else - then go to bed and sleep soundly. But later we decided that even if we risk our careers, we need to, in good faith, try to do the right thing," she said in an interview on radio DZMM.
Netizens however took to social media to air their complaints on Belmonte's announcement.
The vice mayor later acknowledged the criticisms, saying she could have asked the CDRRMO more probing questions about the weather forecast.
The local government of Quezon City has suspended classes in the afternoon.
PAGASA's Malano said gauging the safety of students during bad weather conditions should not be shouldered solely by local officials or school administrators.
Parents, he said, should be aware of flood-prone areas identified in PAGASA's hazard map
"Hindi lang trabaho ng mayor iyan, hindi lang trabaho ng principal. Trabaho rin ng parents iyun kasi mayroong ibang bata na ang layo ng papasukan. Iyun bang ang dadaanan mo is apektado, may baha bang mangyayari," he said.
PAGASA earlier said tropical storm "Gorio" will continue to enhance the southwest monsoon or habagat on Thursday.
The habagat is expected to bring moderate to occasionally heavy rains over large portions of Luzon, Metro Manila and Western Visayas, meteorologists said.