Calm before the storm: OCD focuses on fortifying Northern Luzon as ‘Mawar’ approaches

All eyes are on Northern Luzon as the government prepares for the impact of super typhoon “Mawar” (international name) when it hits the country this weekend.


(The Armed Forces of the Philippines transports relief goods to Batanes on May 25, 2023 in preparation for the effects of super typhoon Mawar [international name] which will be named typhoon Betty when it enters the Philippine Area of Responsibility this weekend. Photo: AFP)

Mawar was last spotted at 1,740 km east of Southeastern Luzon at 3 a.m. Friday, May 26, while moving westward at 20 km per hour (kph). It was packing maximum sustained winds of 215 kph near the center and gusts of up to 265 kph.

Once it enters the Philippine Area of Responsibility either on Friday night, May 26, or Saturday morning, May 27, it will be given the local name “Betty”.

“We are looking at Region 2 (Cagayan Valley) for our preparations. So far, what the NDRRMC [National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council] is doing is to augment this region with food and non-food items,” said Assistant Sec. Bernardo Rafaelito Alejandro IV, deputy administrator for operations of the Office of Civil Defense (OCD) and NDRRMC spokesperson, in a radio interview with dzBB.

According to Alejandro, the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) has sent family food packs to Region 2 using C-130 transport aircraft.

In an emergency full council meeting by the NDRRMC on Thursday, May 25, it was bared that the DSWD has a total of 1,005,472 prepositioned family food packs and 307,664 prepositioned non-food items for the potential affected areas.

“Meanwhile, the OCD also alerted our local counterparts and the local government units (LGUs) in Region 1 (Ilocos Region), CAR (Cordillera Administrative Region), and Region 2 to prepare for the impact of the typhoon,” Alejandro said.

Areas as far as Western Visayas (Region 6) were also told to brace for impact as the typhoon will also likely to enhance the effects of “habagat” or southwest monsoon.

“As far as Region 6, there will also be rains because of the enhanced [effects of] habagat. We alerted them and of course, our resources were already prepared for deployment,” Alejandro said.

In Batanes, the relief items were transported via a C-130 aircraft and stored in a warehouse.

The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) used a transport aircraft to deliver 850 boxes or 7,395 kilos of relief goods in Batanes on Thursday.

The AFP also alerted 7,970 personnel, 4,242 CAFGU Active Auxiliary members, and 180 reservists as first responders while 2,518 land transportation assets, 20 air assets, and 265 water assets were prepared for humanitarian assistance and disaster response (HADR) operations.

“So far, Batanes is okay and we have a warehouse there. Our relief goods are stored, we have food and non-food items that were stockpiled which they can easily access,” Alejandro noted.

Suspension of trips

The full effects of the typhoon will be felt by Monday until Wednesday next week so Alejandro advised the public to plan their trips accordingly, or if possible, cancel them for their safety.

“Land, sea, and air travel will be affected so if your trip is not that important, you might want to suspend it because the forecast is really not good especially if your target is Northern Luzon,” Alejandro said.

Relatedly, the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) announced that the sea trips of Seacat One by Grand Ferries from Cebu City to Calbayog City in Samar have already been suspended from 2 p.m. of May 27; as well as trips from Calbayog City to Cebu City from 8 p.m. of May 28.

“According to the shipping line, this is because of the preventive maintenance of the ships and in preparation for super typhoon Mawar,” the PCG said.

The trips of LCT Poseidon 17 and LCT Poseidon 35 by ALD Sea Transport from Padre Burgos, Southern Leyte to Lipata, Surigao have also been suspended as of noon of May 26 due to safety precautions for Mawar.


The OCD reminded the public to obey local authorities if they call for pre-emptive evacuation, and prepare emergency bags that contain food, water, and other necessary items.

“We need to prepare. In your houses, it’s good to have a flashlight, food, and water. The government is ready to augment the resources at the local level but the first few hours or the first day of the typhoon, every family should be self-sustaining,” Alejandro said.

As of writing, the OCD has yet to confirm if there are already areas that implemented pre-emptive evacuation.

“If you are told to evacuate, do it and if possible, bring the necessary items so that you will have something to use,” he added.