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Solon urges updated basis on suspension of classes

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By Charissa Luci-Atienza

1-Ang Edukasyon party-list Rep. Salvador Belaro Jr. said today it is about time to replace the “obsolete” executive order on suspension of classes and work.

Pedestrians brave the heavy torrential rains brought by Tropical Storm ‘Domeng’ at EDSA Kamuning in Quezon City yesterday. The Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) has finally announced the start of the rainy season last June 8 wherein the western part of the country will experience scattered to widespread heavy rains and thunderstorms in the coming days. (PHOTO/ ALVIN KASIBAN)

(ALVIN KASIBAN/MANILA BULLETIN FILE PHOTO)

The Assistant Majority Leader explained that Executive Order 66, series of 2012, issued by former President Benigno Aquino III,  is limited only to public storm warning signals of the Philippine Atmospheric Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) and to giving local government chief executives the discretion on localized suspension.

He said storm warnings have proven to be inadequate and insufficient indicators or bases for suspension of classes and work.

“EO 66 is in dire need of replacement. It is obsolete and out of touch with the current realities and the emerging future,” he said.

“The effects of storms are no longer what they used to be. Storms these days are more powerful and destructive. Even Signal No. 2 storms cause heavy rain and killer floods. We have more extreme weather events now than ever before because of global warming and climate change. Monsoon rains do not have storm warning signals,” he pointed out.

Belaro urged Malacañang to use House Bill 6072 as a template for a new, updated, upgraded, and more useful EO on suspension of classes and work.

Under HB 6072, Malacanang and other authorities can suspend classes and work at Storm Signal No. 2, instead of Signal No. 3.

HB 6072 enables Malacanang and other authorities to suspend classes and work at Storm Signal No. 2, instead of Signal No. 3.

The measure specifies the various indicators, degrees of intensity, and directly observable developments on which authorities can base their decisions to suspend.

HB 6072 factors in not just storms and floods, but also landslides, earthquakes, tsunami, storm surge, toxic chemical spills, fire, active shooter situations, hostage-taking, kidnapping, banditry, terrorism, and state of emergency.

“For example, updates based on rainfall predictive models and remote river monitoring devices can serve as bases for LGUs, Malacanang, and the education agencies for declaring suspensions. Rain gauges can also be deployed nationwide to help LGUs monitor their local weather,” Belaro said.

He laments that even the guidelines of the Department of Education (DepEd), Commission on Higher Education (CHED) and Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) are outdated.

“Their policies, regulations, and procedures are also limited to public storm warnings. All too often, authorities have not been timely and accurate in their declaration of class and work suspensions or cancellations,” Belaro said.

“Widespread confusion, chaos, and disruption of peoples’ lives have frequently resulted from the lack of a rational system governing suspension or cancellation of classes and work,” he said.

HB 6072 also provides that classes and work may also be suspended or canceled because of widespread loss of electric power distribution, water supply distribution, or non-functioning of sewerage systems, and widespread collapse or offline status of several banking or financial systems that disrupt the normal functioning or cause serious financial incapacity or disruption of households, communities, institutions, and workplaces.

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