President Benigno S. Aquino III has expanded the existing protocol on the cancellation or suspension of classes and work in government due to typhoons to include flooding, calamities and other weather disturbances in order to avoid the unnecessary loss of lives.
Executive Secretary Paquito N. Ochoa Jr. said on Thursday the President issued Executive Order No. 66 on January 9, streamlining and simplifying the procedures for the cancellation or suspension of classes in public and private schools and work in government offices due to calamities.
“This presidential issuance is an assertion of the State’s declared policy to institutionalize measures that will ensure that the general public, including students and state workers, will be safe from needless hazards and that their lives and limbs will be safeguarded,” Ochoa said.
EO 66 has set the following guidelines in the cancellation or suspension of classes in public and private schools and work in government:
· Signal No. 1 – Classes at the pre-school level, in the affected area, shall be automatically cancelled or suspended.
· Signal No. 2 – Classes at the pre-school, elementary and secondary levels, in the affected area, shall be automatically cancelled or suspended.
· Signal No. 3 – Classes at pre-school, elementary, secondary and tertiary levels, in the affected area, including graduate school, as well as work in all government offices, shall be automatically cancelled or suspended.
President Aquino also directed the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) to issue weather forecasts through various media outlets, including radio and television, not later than 10 p.m. of the previous day and 4:30 a.m. of the day of the intended cancellation or suspension of classes and work.
The President, however, said that in the event where there are classes and work in the morning and suspension of classes and work is only effective in the afternoon, PAGASA should issue the forecast not later than 11 a.m. of the said day.
At the same time, EO 66 provides that in the absence of typhoon signal warnings from PAGASA, the local chief executives shall implement localized cancellation or suspension of classes and government work in coordination with the weather bureau and the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC), particularly in flood-prone or high risk areas.
The local chief executives serve as chairpersons of the Local Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (LDRRMC).
EO 66 sets the announcements of the cancellation or suspension not later than 4:30 a.m. of the same day or not later than 11 a.m. for suspension of classes and work in the afternoon. The announcement should be made through different media outlets, landline communications and other technologies for communication within the community or locality.
In areas affected by disasters other than typhoons, classes in all levels in both public and private schools and government work shall only be cancelled or suspended upon the declaration by the President of a state of calamity on recommendation of the NDRRMC.
The concerned LDRRM Office must then be responsible for the announcement of the suspension of classes and government work in the affected areas in coordination with the NDRRMC through various media outlets available under the circumstances.
EO 66 tasks the NDRRMC to immediately inform the Office of the President (OP), through the Executive Secretary, of any or all cancellation or suspension of classes and government work in the affected areas.
President Aquino, nevertheless, directed government agencies directly involved in disaster risk reduction and management to maintain the operations of their respective offices to ensure the continuity of the delivery of public service. The heads of the concerned government agencies shall determine which of their respective divisions or units shall maintain its operations.
These government offices are the Office of the Executive Secretary and the Departments of National Defense, the Interior and Local Government, Social Welfare and Development, Science and Technology, Health, Public Works and Highways, and Education, among others, which operations the President or the NDRRMC may deem necessary.
The OP, through the Executive Secretary, shall have concurrent authority with the NDRRMC to cancel or suspend classes and work in government offices during disasters, the EO stated. ###