PAGASA lifts wind signals in some areas as ‘Bising’ slows down

Robie de Guzman   •   April 21, 2021   •   255

MANILA, Philippines – The tropical cyclone wind signals (TCWS) in some areas in the country were lifted on Wednesday as Typhoon Bising continues to slow down while moving northwestward east of mainland Cagayan, the state weather bureau said.

In its 11 a.m. bulletin, the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical, and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) said that TCWS signal number 2 has been lifted but signal number 1 remains hoisted over the following areas:

  • Batanes
  • Cagayan including Babuyan Islands
  • The eastern portion of Apayao (Luna, Santa Marcela, Flora, Pudtol)
  • The eastern portion of Kalinga (Pinukpuk, Rizal)
  • The eastern portion of Isabela (Ilagan, San Mariano, Palanan, Divilacan, Maconacon, San Pablo, Cabagan, Tumauini, Santa Maria, Delfin Albano, Santo Tomas, Quezon, Quirino, Gamu, Naguilian, Benito Soliven, Reina Mercedes, Mallig, Burgos, Roxas, Cauayan City, Luna, San Manuel, Cabatuan, Aurora, Dinapigue, San Mateo, Alicia, Angadanan, San Guillermo, Echague, Jones, San Agustin, San Isidro)
  • The northeastern portion of Quirino (Maddela)
  • The northern portion of Aurora (Casiguran, Dilasag)

PAGASA said that tropical cyclone winds of at least strong breeze to near gale in strength extend outward up to 370 km from the center of the typhoon. Destructive typhoon-force winds extend outward up to 90 km from the center of the typhoon.

It added that the northeasterly wind flow enhanced by the typhoon will also bring strong breeze to near gale conditions with higher gusts over the coastal and mountainous areas of Northern Luzon that are not under any TCWS in the next 24 hours.

Bising was last located at 360 kilometers east of Tuguegarao City, Cagayan, packing maximum sustained winds of 175 kilometers per hour (km/h) near the center and gustiness of up to 215 km/h. The typhoon is moving northwestward at 10 km/h.

Based on the forecast track, PAGASA said Bising will move generally northward or north northwestward until Wednesday night or Thursday morning, when the typhoon will be nearest to the landmass of Northern Luzon.

Afterwards, the typhoon will move northeastward away from the landmass throughout tomorrow and east northeastward on Friday and Saturday.

Bising is expected to gradually weaken throughout the remainder of the forecast period. The typhoon will likely be downgraded to severe tropical storm category by Saturday and tropical storm category by Sunday.

 

287 Chinese vessels spotted in Kalayaan waters, NTF-WPS says

Robie de Guzman   •   May 12, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — A number of Chinese vessels were seen scattered in various features of the Municipality of Kalayaan in Palawan according to the latest maritime patrol, the National Task Force for the West Philippine Sea (NTF-WPS) said Wednesday.

Citing a report from the Area Task Force-West on the results of its maritime patrol on May 9, the NTF-WPS said that a total of 287 Chinese maritime militia (CMM) vessels were sighted in Kalayaan waters, both within and outside the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone (EEZ).

“Bigger groupings of CMMs were sighted at the artificial islands of China while some were observed near islands occupied by the Philippines,” the task force said in a statement.

The recent sighting of Chinese vessels in the area is despite demands from Philippine government officials for China to withdraw its ships in the country’s territorial waters.

The NTF-WPS said that based on the maritime patrol, 2 CMMs and two Houbei Class Missile warships were seen inside Panganiban (Mischief) Reef; one CMM was at Lawak (Nanshan) Island; 11 CMMs were located approximately 29NM southwest of Recto (Reed) Bank; and one CMM vessel was at Ayungin (Second Thomas) Shoal.

One Chinese Coast Guard was also seen at the shoal during an earlier patrol on May 7, the task force said.

“As for the features forming part of the Pagkakaisa (Union) Banks, the 9 May 2021 maritime patrol reported the presence of 34 CMMs at Juan Felipe (Whitsun) Reef (JFR), two Vietnamese (VN) logistics/supply ships and one VN Coast Guard vessel at Sin Cowe East (Grierson) Reef and 77 CMMs in Chigua Reef,” the NTF-WPS said.

The Julian Felipe Reef is a low tide elevation located 175 nautical miles from Bataraza, Palawan and within 200 nautical miles (NM) of the Philippines’ EEZ.

“It is part of Philippine territory inasmuch as it is located within the overlapping 12NM territorial seas of McKennan (Chigua) Reef and of another possible high-tide feature, Grierson (Sin Cowe East) Reef, also our territories under the Municipality of Kalayaan,” the task force said.

The NTF-WPS also said that the 14 CMM vessels and one CCG vessel were spotted off the main Pagasa Island, and 16 CMMs at Zamora (Subi) Reef during the May 9 maritime patrol.

“For the period 3-10 May, the Area Task Force-North reported an average of four CCG vessels at Bajo de Masinloc (Scarborough Shoal), and an average of one CCG each for both the Pag-asa Islands and Ayungin (Second Thomas) Shoal,” it added.

Despite China’s illegal unilateral “fishing ban” covering its fishing vessels in waters north of 12 degrees latitude in the South China Sea, from May 1 to August 16, 2021, the task force said two CMMs were observed harvesting shells inside the lagoon of the Bajo de Masinloc.

It also noted a daily average of 10 Filipino fishing boats seen fishing inside the Bajo de Masinloc lagoon for the period of May 7 to 9.

Amid the presence of Chinese vessels in the contested waters, the NTF-WPS said that the Philippine government “continues to strengthen its presence in the WPS with a view towards law enforcement, deterrence of illegal, unreported, unregulated fishing and protection of the welfare and safety of our fisherfolk.”

The task force also urged Filipino fishermen to sail and fish in the West Philippine Sea.

“The National Task Force remains guided by the national policy and interest in asserting our territorial and sovereign rights as upheld by the 2016 arbitral ruling. The articulation of President Rodrigo Duterte at the 75th UN General Assembly emphasizing that the ruling is now part of international law and beyond compromise remains the supreme expression of foreign policy by this government,” it said.

“We reiterated that the Philippines shall continue to defend its sovereignty, sovereign rights and jurisdiction over the West Philippine Sea, and shall not yield an inch of our territory,” it added.

PAGASA monitors low pressure area east of Davao City

Marje Pelayo   •   May 12, 2021

MANILA, Philippines – The Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) is monitoring a low pressure area (LPA) brewing near the southern section of the country.

As of 10:00 AM Wednesday (May 12), the LPA was estimated at 595 kilometers East of Davao City.

It is forecast to move generally westward or west-northwestward towards Mindanao but is less likely to develop into a tropical depression in the next 24 hours.

PAGASA said the trough of LPA will bring light to moderate with at times heavy rains over Surigao del Sur and Davao Oriental in the next 24 hours.

Under these conditions, isolated to scattered flooding (including flash floods) and rain-induced landslides are likely during heavy or prolonged rainfall especially in areas that are highly or very highly susceptible to these hazards as identified in hazard maps.

Adjacent or nearby areas may also experience flooding in the absence of such rainfall occurrence due to surface runoff or swelling of river channels.

The public and disaster risk reduction and management offices concerned are advised to take appropriate measures and monitor regular updates on this weather disturbance through the agency’s official website.

Philippine GDP declines by 4.2% in first quarter of 2021 – PSA

Robie de Guzman   •   May 11, 2021

MANILA, Philippines – The Philippine economy shrank by more than expected in the first quarter of the year, according to government data released on Tuesday, as prolonged community quarantines due to the pandemic hamper reopening efforts.

The Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) reported that the country’s gross domestic product (GDP) fell -4.2 percent in the first quarter from a year earlier.

This is the fifth consecutive quarter that the country has posted negative GDP growth due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The PSA said the main contributors to the decline were Construction (-24.2 percent), other Services, (-38.0 percent); and Real Estate and Ownership of Dwellings (-13.2 percent).

Among the major economic sectors, Agriculture, Forestry, and Fishing (AFF) declined by -1.2 percent in the first quarter of 2021. Likewise, Services and Industry contracted by -4.4 percent and -4.7 percent, respectively during the period, the PSA noted.

“On the demand side, Household Final Consumption Expenditure (HFCE) declined by -4.8 percent, along with the following items: Gross Capital Formation (GCF), -18.3 percent; Exports, -9.0 percent; and Imports, -8.3 percent,” the agency said.

The net primary income (NPI) from the rest of the world continued to decline by -75.8 percent, bringing the Gross National Income (GNI) to drop by -10.9 percent during the period, it added.

On the other hand, the PSA said that government final consumption expenditure (GFCE) grew by 16.1 percent in the first quarter of 2021.

Contributors to growth were led by financial and insurance activities (5.2 percent), public administration and defense, compulsory social activities (7.5 percent), and human health and social work activities (11.7 percent).

Other industries that managed to grow during the period were information and communication, 6.3 percent; manufacturing, 0.5 percent; and electricity, steam, water, and waste management, 1.9 percent, the PSA said.

The National Economic Development Authority (NEDA) said the aversion to risk for most of 2020 has placed the country in a long period of quarantine, and that this came at a huge cost to the economy and the people.

It, however, observed some improvements as the rate of contraction has slowed, and that the country has time to catch up with on its growth target of 6.5 to 7.5 percent despite the pandemic-induced quarantine restrictions.

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