THE LOCAL weather bureau placed parts of Surigao provinces under tropical cyclone wind signal No. 2 as Rai, locally named Odette, intensified into a typhoon on Wednesday. 

The center of Odette was last spotted 590 kilometers east of Hinatuan, Surigao del Sur at 10 a.m., according to an 11 p.m. bulletin posted on its website. 

The storm had maximum sustained winds of 120 kilometers per hour (kph) near the center and gustiness of 150 kph. It was moving westward at 20 kph, the agency said. 

Meanwhile, fishermen in Eastern Visayas and Mindanao will have to halt their fishing activities as the government enforced evacuation in coastal areas and a no sailing policy on fishermen due to the typhoon. 

The typhoon was expected to make landfall by Thursday in either the Caraga region or Eastern Visayas in central Philippines. 

In a statement, the Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas sought government aid amid the typhoon. 

“Fishing families will be forced to vacate their communities to seek shelter in evacuation areas,” it said. “The government must be prepared in providing assistance to these families whose livelihood would be adversely affected by the approaching natural calamity,” group Chairman Fernando L. Hicap said. 

“We demand a prompt government response in the form of economic assistance and livelihood subsidy,” he added. 

Mr. Hicap urged Agriculture department to mobilize calamity funds for the potential damage on agriculture and fisheries, and subsidize and compensate affected farmers and fishers. 

Aside from relief goods, the fisherfolk also sought health services and personal protective equipment for evacuees to protect them from the coronavirus. 

“Health safety measures must be observed as fisherfolk evacuees would be exposed to risky and crowded evacuations areas,” Mr. Hicap said. “They should be protected not only against the tropical storm but also from any possible virus disease that could worsen their situation.” — Norman P. Aquino and Luisa Maria Jacinta C. Jocson