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‘Siony’ maintains strength; strong winds up in N. Luzon

TROPICAL Storm (TS) “Siony” maintained its strength and strong winds continued to prevail over parts of northern Luzon, the weather bureau said on Wednesday.

In an update posted before noon, the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) said “Siony” packs a maximum sustained winds of 85 kph near the center and gustiness of up to 105 kph. It was last seen 755 km. east of Basco, Batanes.

Strong breeze to gale force winds with higher gusts prevailed over Batanes, Babuyan Islands, and the northern coastal areas of Cagayan and Ilocos Norte, PAGASA added.

Tropical cyclone wind signal no. 1 was hoisted over the northeastern portion of mainland Cagayan (Santa Ana, Gonzaga), and the eastern portion of Babuyan Islands (Balintang Island, Babuyan Island, Didicas Island, and Camiguin Island, including their adjoining islets).

PAGASA maintained that flooding and rain-induced landslides may occur during heavy or prolonged rainfall, especially in areas highly susceptible to these hazards, and/or those that received significant rainfall from Tropical Cyclones “Pepito“, “Quinta” and “Rolly“.

Rolly” exited the Philippine Area of Responsibility (PAR) on Tuesday night.

However, “Rolly“, “Siony“, and the northeasterlies will cause rough to very rough seas over the entire seaboards of northern Luzon, the northern seaboard of Camarines Sur, the northern and eastern seaboards of Catanduanes, and the seaboards of Aurora, Camarines Norte, Kalayaan Island, and northern Quezon, including the northern and eastern coastal waters of Polillo Island. Sea travel is risky over these areas.

Palace backs use of NTF-ELCAC fund for Rolly victims

Meanwhile, Malacañang on Wednesday expressed support to a senator’s proposal to realign a portion of the P16.4-billion anti-insurgency fund to relief and rehabilitation efforts for communities affected by Super Typhoon Rolly.

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque explained that it was the mandate of the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC) to promote the development of areas “with ongoing insurgencies”.

I think that is the objective of ELCAC. The objective of the ELCAC is to promote development in areas with ongoing insurgencies because we know that poverty is the root cause of insurgency,” he said in an interview over CNN Philippines’ The Source.

Roque said he did not see “any inconsistency” with the proposal to realign a portion of NTF-ELCAC funds to typhoon-hit areas.

I don’t think there is any inconsistency with the proposal to actually spend funds in the typhoon damaged areas,” he added.

He pointed out that since some villages in the Bicol Region are affected by insurgency, part of the NTF-ELCAC’s funds may be used to help Filipinos recover from the calamity.

I think, a fact that Bicol also is a hot bed for insurgency, so that would be within the mandate of ELCAC,” he said.

Senator Risa Hontiveros on Tuesday said a portion of the NTF-ELCAC’s funds may be used to help Filipinos battered by the typhoon get back on their feet.

She pointed out that the budget for NTF-ELCAC is “questionably astronomic” compared to the proposed budgets of other key agencies.

The NTF-ELCAC has been allocated a proposed budget of PHP19-billion for 2021. Of this amount, P16.4-billion has been earmarked for its Barangay Development Program.

Last September, Roque defended the proposed PHP16.4 billion allocation as “valid expenditure” for the government’s anti-insurgency campaign.

He said the Executive department has the duty to submit annual budget proposals.

National Security Adviser and National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF ELCAC) vice-chair Secretary Hermogenes Esperon Jr. also dismissed allegations that the funding for its Barangay Development Program for 2021 is “pork barrel” as claimed by the Makabayan bloc of the House of Representatives.

Under the NTF ELCAC’s Barangay Development Program, the funds will be used in constructing various infrastructure projects like farm-to-market roads, school buildings, water and sanitation systems, health stations, and forest cover protection programs. Philippine News Agency