BANOG-BANOG FESTIVAL. As part of the month-long celebration of the 59th founding anniversary of Northern Samar, several activities have been lined up, including the ‘Summer Saya sa Ibabao Banog-banog’ competition. The province, under Gov. Edwin Ongchuan, will mark its founding anniversary on June 19.(THE PROVINCIAL GOVERNMENT OF NORTHERN SAMAR)

Tornado hit N. Samar town

TACLOBAN CITY—Tropical storm ‘Aghon’ did not result in significant damages to Eastern Visayas, which was among the areas where the storm was expected to hit.

In a related development, a rally organized by the group of former President Rodrigo Duterte was canceled on Saturday (May 25) due to the bad weather.

According to a report from the regional office of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), about 475 families, consisting of 2,026 individuals, were affected by the bad weather. These families were from Samar, Northern Samar, and Eastern Samar provinces.

In Lavezares, Northern Samar, a tornado hit Sitio Feeder Road of Barangay Caburihan, causing significant damage. Four houses were totally destroyed, while eight others were damaged. The tornado, which lasted for four minutes, occurred around 2 am on Saturday (May 25).

Rei Josiah Echano, provincial disaster risk reduction management officer of Northern Samar, reported that the tornado affected 14 families, consisting of 53 individuals.

“Governor Edwin Ongchuan has already mobilized the province’s resources to provide shelter assistance and other needs of the victims,” he said. The affected families are temporarily taking shelter at their barangay hall.

Police Staff Sergeant Amiel Galdonez, head of operations of the Lavezares police, confirmed that out of the 12 houses damaged, four were totally destroyed. Most of these houses were made of light materials.

The tornado also damaged the covered court of Sitio Feeder, blowing away some of its roofs.

“According to the residents, the tornado lasted around one minute. Fortunately, no one was hurt,” Galdonez said in a phone interview.

He added that the tornado could have been spawned by Typhoon ‘Aghon.’

The bad weather also disrupted sea travel across the region, as the Coast Guard issued an advisory prohibiting sea travel.

More than 500 sea travelers were affected by the order in the three ports of Allen, Northern Samar: Dapdap, Balwhartico, and Santa Clara.

In Macrohon, Southern Leyte, a fisherman named Celso Plasabas, 67, was reported missing after he ventured out to sea to fish on the afternoon of May 23.

The DSWD in Eastern Visayas had prepositioned P119.29 million worth of relief items in preparation for the possible impact of Tropical Depression ‘Aghon’ in the region.

These resources include P114.76 million worth of food and non-food items and a P4.52 million standby fund, according to DSWD regional information officer Jonalyndie Chua.

The relief goods include 91,130 family food packs (FFPs) and 35,602 non-food items (NFIs).

“In response to the possible effects of this weather disturbance, the DSWD field office held a quick response team meeting to discuss preparedness measures to respond to the needs of the local government units,” Chua said.

The stock of food supplies in strategic areas of the region will ensure faster delivery of relief goods in case of severe flooding and other disasters.

These goods are prepositioned in Northern Samar, Eastern Samar, and DSWD regional resource operations centers in Palo, Leyte, Sogod, Southern Leyte, and Biliran province.
Each FFP contains six kilos of rice, four cans of corned beef, four cans of tuna flakes, two cans of sardines, five sachets of coffee, and five sachets of cereal drinks. The NFIs include sleeping kits, hygiene kits, mosquito nets, laminated sacks, plastic mats, modular tents, and kitchen utensils.

Meanwhile, the scheduled ‘Maisug’ rally of former President Duterte’s group was also affected by the bad weather. The organizers were forced to cancel their rally at the Remedios Trinidad Romualdez (RTR) Plaza, located in the city proper but owned by the provincial government of Leyte.

The former president was expected to arrive from Davao City to Tacloban for the rally.
His son, Davao City Mayor Baste Duterte, in a press conference on Sunday (May 26), expressed disappointment that their ‘prayer rally’ did not take place but hoped to reschedule it.

“We hope to come back again to Tacloban for the Maisug rally,” he said.

(JOEY A. GABIETA with a report from PNA)