His Excellency Benigno S. Aquino III
President of the Philippines
On Typhoon Yolanda
[This is an English translation of the statement delivered at Malacañan Palace on November 7, 2013]
Good evening. We have just spoken to experts from DOST, PAGASA, and the Mines and Geosciences Bureau, who gave us the latest data on the current typhoon, as well as its projected effect on the country.
As you know, Yolanda has entered the Philippine Area of Responsibility. As with last year’s Typhoon Pablo, I thought it best to speak to you to emphasize the gravity of the calamity our countrymen will face in these coming days, and to ask of everyone cooperation and solidarity.
Storm signal number 4 has been—and will be—raised over some areas because of this typhoon. Current data indicates that Yolanda will be stronger than Pablo; we pray that because of its speed, it will not linger over any of our provinces and intensify the damage. The typhoon has a 600-kilometer diameter. We expect it to make landfall on Samar and Leyte by midnight; it will traverse the provinces of Masbate, Cebu, Panay, Romblon, Mindoro, and Palawan, before it completely leaves the Philippine Area of Responsibility on Saturday night. Aside from strong winds, rain, the overflowing of our rivers, and the possibility of lahar in areas near the Mayon and Bulusan volcanoes, we are likewise monitoring the threat of storm surges in more than a hundred areas: Storm surges are expected in Ormoc, Ginayangan Ragay Gulf in Albay, and Lamon Bay in Atimonan. Waves in these areas may reach five to six meters.
Secretary Volts Gazmin and DILG Secretary Mar Roxas are already in Leyte to oversee preparations. All of our Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Councils—from the national, regional, and down to the municipal and city levels—are also making their own preparations. Of course, the cooperation of the Filipino people is necessary for them to do their jobs. The NDRRMC is coordinating with affected regions, municipalities, and cities to prepare for the storm, for example, by providing as much information as possible so that we can adequately prepare for Yolanda. For additional information, we may visit the websites of PAGASA, the Mines and Geosciences Bureau, and Project NOAH to best see how affected our communities will be once the storm arrives. May this message also serve as a warning to our LGUs: your constituents are facing a very real danger. Let us do everything we can while Yolanda has not yet arrived. Let me repeat myself: this is a very real danger, and we can mitigate and lessen its effects if we use the information available to prepare.
Our three C130’s are all fully mission capable and can respond when needed. Also on standby are 32 planes and helicopters from our Air Force. The navy has also positioned 20 vessels in Cebu, Bicol, Cavite, and Zamboanga. Relief goods have been prepositioned in the areas we expect to be affected; to those we have not yet been able to reach because it has been deemed too dangerous for ships to go out to sea, rest assured that help will arrive as soon as the storm passes.
The effects of this storm can be eased through solidarity. Let us exhibit calm, especially as we buy our primary necessities, and as we evacuate to safer areas. Let us coordinate and cooperate with the authorities. If you already know that you are in a hazardous area, evacuate. To those in the coastlines: Do not go out to sea; let us not test the situation, so as not to put the lives of rescuers in danger.
We have already gone through a lot this year; let us help, and ease the burdens, of our Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Councils and their personnel. As always, no storm can bring a united Filipino people to its knees. It is my hope that we all stay safe in the coming days.
Thank you, and good evening.