Typhoon Rolly threatens 19.8 million Filipinos; PNP to force evacuation in dangerous areas

Gillan Ropero, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Nov 01 2020 12:06 PM | Updated as of Nov 01 2020 02:20 PM

Typhoon Rolly threatens 19.8 million Filipinos; PNP to force evacuation in dangerous areas 1
Photo shows residents of Mabini, Batangas on Sunday morning as Super Typhoon Rolly (international name: GONI) makes landfall in the Philippines' Bicol Region. Jeck Batallones, ABS-CBN News

MANILA (UPDATE) - The Philippine National Police (PNP) will force people to evacuate in areas deemed as dangerous as typhoon Rolly threatens some 19.8 million Filipinos nationwide, officials said Sunday.

Of this number, some 1.3 million were poor families within the 60-kilometer diameter of the country's 18th storm this year, said Undersecretary Ricardo Jalad, director of the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC).

Nearly a million have been evacuated in Bicol region, NDRRMC spokesman Mark Timbal earlier said, while some 96,543 families or 346,993 individuals were preemptively evacuated as of 10 a.m., Jalad said.

The council has yet to receive reports of fatalities or cost of damage, according to Jalad.

Albay Governor Al Bichara, however, said there were 2 reports of "casualties" in his province - one in Polangui and another in Daraga.

"At the moment, walang kuryente, walang communications kaya kailangang puntahan," he said.

(At the moment, there's no electricity, no communications, so we need to go to the area.)

The regions exposed to the world's strongest storm this year include Metro Manila, the Cordilleras, Ilocos, Cagayan Valley, Central Luzon, Calabarzon, Mimaropa, Western Visayas, Central Visayas, Eastern Visayas, and Zamboanga peninsula, according to Jalad.

Situation in Mabini, Batangas on Sunday morning as super typhoon Rolly makes landfall in the Bicol Region. Jeck Batallones, ABS-CBN News

The PNP will assist in evacuation efforts, the Joint Task Force COVID Shield earlier said. It is also prepared for search and rescue operations, its chief Gen. Camilo Cascolan said.

"There will be forced evacuation po para sa lahat kung nakikita ng pulisan na delikado na po ang inyong lugar (for all if our policemen see the area is already dangerous)," he said during a virtual press briefing.

President Rodrigo Duterte was unable to preside over the briefing as he cannot travel to Manila due to the storm, his spokesman Harry Roque said.

"Mahirap kasi magbiyahe ngayon sa Maynila dahil nga sa bagyo. Pero, nakamonitor po ang Presidente. We actually expect him to address the nation, di ko lang po alam kung kailan (I just don't know when)," Roque said. "I will give advance notice po."

(It's hard to travel to Manila due to the typhoon, but the President is monitoring the situation.)

The Department of Health reminded the public to observe minimum health standards such as 1-meter physical distancing and proper handwashing in evacuation centers, as the COVID-19 remains a threat.

Health Secretary Francisco Duque also urged authorities to designate safety officers in evacuation centers and told the public to avoid wading through floodwaters, particularly those with wounds.

The agency has raised code blue or required half of its staff to report to its offices nationwide, Duque said.

Patients and government healthcare workers in Metro Manila, Central Luzon and Bicol region were evacuated to isolation facilities, public schools and daycare centers, he added.

The Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) said it has some P884 million worth of standby funds, with 260,164 family food packs "prepositioned in strategic areas" across the country.

The Armed Forces of the Philippines also said it was on standby and ready to assist as some 4,860 soldiers have been deployed and were augmented by 2,000 members of the Citizen Armed Force Geographical Unit and 1,000 reservists.

Typhoon Rolly hit the Philippines as the country still reels from last week's Typhoon Quinta (international name: Molave), affecting close to 800,000 people from Central Luzon, Calabarzon, Mimaropa, Bicol Region, and in central, western and Eastern Visayas.

Quinta left 23 people dead, 39 injured and three missing persons, according to the latest NDRRMC report.

Quinta's damage to infrastructure is estimated to cost P290 million, and over P1.8 billion for agriculture. Close to 74,000 houses were partially damaged, while over 7,100 were totally destroyed.