GMA News Online

Aquino can't wait for Sunday, wants hourly updates now

October 16, 2010 7:29pm

A departure from the usual practice of the previous administration, the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) on Thursday claimed it would post hourly weather updates on incoming Typhoon "Juan."

PAGASA quickly added that it will begin the new system of hourly updates only after the first storm warning signals had been raised—which, based on forecast data, might occur only on Sunday afternoon, on the eve of the typhoon's expected landfall in Cagayan.

But President Benigno Aquino III, showing concern about the looming super typhoon, couldn’t wait for Sunday to arrive—if Science and Techonology Secretary Mario Montejo's words were to be an indicator.

During Saturday's regular weather update for "Juan" in Quezon City, Montejo revealed that the President had wanted the hourly updates to start as soon as possible.

The order from the President—who had publicly reprimanded former PAGASA chief Prisco Nilo for supposedly inaccurate data on typhoon Basyang—naturally did not go unheeded.

"As per instruction of the President, we started making our hourly updates [just this] 5 a.m. through our website and Twitter account, consistent with the promise to make people informed and aware of the situation," Montejo said.

Since 5 a.m. on Saturday, PAGASA has made more than a dozen updates on typhoon Juan both on Twitter and on its website, which contained basic information on the typhoon’s strength, speed, and location. For the website, PAGASA designated a special portion for the updates.

At the height of Basyang's rampage last July, Aquino attended an emergency meeting by the National Disaster Coordinating Council (NDCC) in Camp Aguinaldo, where he said he was particularly piqued at PAGASA's failure to immediately inform the public that the typhoon had changed course because their updates only came in six-hour intervals.

"That information it is sorely lacking and we have had this problem for quite a long time... You do what you are supposed to do... This is not acceptable. I hope this is the last time that we are all brought to areas different from where we should be," Aquino had told Nilo.

In the aftermath of Basyang, Nilo was fired from his post for alleged incompetence and ineligibility for the job as the country's chief weather forecaster—an accusation Nilo strongly denied.—Mark Merueñas/JV, GMANews.TV
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