The National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) said that its preparations for Typhoon Mangkhut are at "Yolanda level," but stressed that it is not saying that the oncoming storm will be on the same level as the 2013 supertyphoon.
The typhoon, situated 1,845 km east of southern Luzon as of 11 a.m. Tuesday, is expected to enter the Philippine Area of Responsibility as Typhoon Ompong "any time" on Wednesday.
In a press briefing on Tuesday, NDRRMC spokesperson Edgar Posadas said that the powerful typhoon, measuring up to 600 kilometers in diameter, could not only batter northern Luzon but also the rest of the region, including Metro Manila, if it makes landfall.
"Basically, paiigtingin nito 'yung Habagat," Posadas said.
"'Yung western side natin—Zamboanga Peninsula, Northern Mindanao, and the provinces of Siquijor, Surigao Del Norte, Agusan Del Norte, Dinagat Islands, Lanao del Sur—will be affected from the 12th to the 14th [of September]," he said.
"So kung magla-landfall daw, kung northernmost tip ng northern Luzon, apektado hanggang Central Luzon and outer bayans niya, posible hanggang Metro Manila," he added.
Referring to the council's pre-disaster risk assessment (PDRA) conducted Monday, Posadas said, "Ang preparation po natin ay nasa level po ng Yolanda. Of course we have learned a lot from Yolanda."
"Only, hindi naman ibig sabihin na Mangkhut is of the same magnitude as Yolanda, but, well, anything could happen kasi lumalakas pa siya habang lumalapit siya sa Philippine Area of Responsibility," he added.
Getting ready for search and rescue
Quoting NDRRMC Executive Director Undersecretary Ricardo Jalad, Posadas said that several agencies have agreed to bulk up search, rescue and retrieval operations in areas expected to bear potential impacts of the typhoon.
"Usec. Jalad wanted to give more emphasis on 'yung search, rescue and retrieval of which 'yung Armed Forces natin is taking hold. Kagaya din ho ng Philippine National Police, ng Bureau of Fire Protection, 'tsaka Philippine Coast Guard," he said.
However, Posadas said the said the official deployment plan was still being finalized as of Tuesday afternoon.
"Inaayos lang natin 'yung deployment plan tapos definitely ide-deploy na 'yan," he said.
Posadas was asked about a possible scenario in which the additional personnel would be deployed too late.
The NDRRMC spokesperson said: "Hindi naman. We are in close contact tayo with PAGASA. Alam natin 'yung timing...in time, pagkatapos ng PDRA [pre-disaster risk assessment] pwede na silang ma-deploy bukas," he said.
"We are taking every aspect into consideration, and one of the recommendations is really the preemptive evacuation," Posadas said.
The offices of the Office of Civil Defense in Regions 1, 2, 3 and the Cordillera Administrative Region are already on red alert on Tuesday in preparation for the typhoon.
The DSWD has also earmarked P1.7 billion worth of standby fund, food and non-food items ahead of Ompong. — BM, GMA News