ARMM prepares for New Year weather disturbance  

COTABATO CITY(MindaNews/ 30 December)— The Autonomous Region in  Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) disaster management team has stepped up its disaster risk mitigation and preparations amid reports of a low pressure area developing into a tropical depression.

ARMM governor Mujiv Hataman on Friday held an emergency meeting with his Cabinet officials to discuss the details of the preparations.

ARMM Governor Mujiv Hataman presides over an emergency meeting Friday, 29 December 2017, in preparation for the New Year weather disturbance. Photo courtesy of ARMM Bureau of Public Information

The Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical, and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) on December 29 said the prevailing Northeast Monsoon and the Tail-End of Cold Front will affect most parts of Luzon and Eastern Visayas during the next four days but a  Low Pressure Area (LPA) which may develop into Tropical Depression (TD)  is expected to pass over Mindanao and some portion of the Visayas particularly in the southern area, that would bring “moderate up to occasionally intense rains and gusty winds over the area along its path.”

Light to moderate rainshowers and isolated thunderstorms are expected over Mindanao until December 31, PAGASA said, adding “moderate up to occasionally intense rains with gusty winds” are expected from New Year’s Day until January 2 as the low pressure area that may develop into a tropical depression “approaches and make landfall over Eastern Mindanao.”

Flashflood and landslides are possible over Davao Region, Caraga, Bukidnon, Misamis Oriental, Samar and Leyte provinces, it said.

Still, the ARMM is preparing for any eventuality as Misamis Oriental is near Lanao del Sur and heavy rains in Bukidnon could cause flooding in Maguindanao.

ThIn the ARMM’s five provinces and two cities,  32 were reported killed, 33 injured and 18 missing mostly victims of flashfloods and landslides in Lanao del Sur when severe tropical storm Vinta passed as it moved westward from its landfall in Cateel, Davao Oriental on December 22.

“We must have a very extensive communication to local government units, dapat maging handa sila higit pa sa paghahanda nila sa Vinta” (they should prepare more than they did for Vinta), Hataman said.

Myrna Jo Henry, ARMM-HEART (Humanitarian Emergency Action and Response Team) information staff said inventory of equipment and services from all participating agencies is being done along with military and police rescue units.

“We are also closely monitoring those landslide prone areas and the recently hit areas by Vinta,” Henry said in a telephone interview.

ARMM spokesperson Amir Mawallil said the governor has instructed ARMM-HEART and other line agencies to be “on alert.”

As of December 28, 2017, the RDRRMC-ARMM tallied 217 barangays affected and 61,331 families affected by Vinta in the ARMM.

Maguindanao province, which was not affected during last typhoon, has sent their engineering team and equipment to help in road opening and rehabilitation after flashfloods and landslides closed several parts if the roads connecting Maguindanao to Lanao Del Sur en route to Marawi City. (Ferdinandh B. Cabrera / MindaNews)