(PN file photo)

The extremely high heat index recorded from March 27 to April 22 marked the longest hot season Puerto Princesa City has experienced, surpassing the previous droughts in 2016 and 2019.

“Ito yung pinakamatagal na heatwave na nararanasan natin as per my experience. Yung dalawang drought situation na nabanggit kanina, ito po yung pinakamatagal (…) Personally I think this is because of the effects of extreme weather brought about by climate change,” City Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office Chief Earl Timbancaya said.

He noted that PAGASA’s heat index tracking is consistent with the information received by the city’s four monitoring weather stations located in the barangays of Luzviminda, Napsan, Macarascas, and San Rafael.

Timbancaya added, however, that they have not yet activated the incident command system in place for extreme droughts.

“Yung measures kasi na-define na kaagad before pa uminit. Ang di lang natin na-anticipate ay yung effect sa academe, sa mga bata. Di na-consider yan pero yung agriculture, yung water production, mga health issues, identified na yan na magkakaroon tayo ng problema,” Timbancaya added.

He explained that the local DepEd and CHED institutions also had their own departmental policies in place for natural disasters, which they activated as soon as the heat index stayed consistently within PAGASA’s determined danger zone.

Timbancaya said that the CDRRMO bolstered the fire protection and prevention services early on this year, such as the early fire warning systems.

“Every barangay meron na po tayong wang wang. Yung sa last fire incident natin, isa sa dalawang barangay nakapagpa-alarm. Pwede din gawing PA system ang mga iyan. (…) Inaalam pa din namin kung bakit hindi tumunog [yung isa],” he said.

Furthermore, he said that firefighters in the city were equipped with provisions for forest fire fighting, such as personal protective tools to make firelines, and an allotment of a 10-cubic meter water tankers.

“In terms of equipment for mechanical advantage, like high-angle equipment, we have man bucket na makaka-extend hanggang fourth floor ng building. We are also planning to acquire a rescue ladder na kayang akyatin yung pinakamataas ng building dito sa atin,” Timbancaya added.