FIVE rescue workers died in Bulacan on Sunday as Super Typhoon Karding, a category 3 typhoon with international name Noru, brought rains and strong winds across Luzon in northern Philippines, local authorities said.

Governor Daniel R. Fernando of Bulacan, a coastal province immediately north of the capital region, told DZMM radio station the casualties were conducting rescue operations when a flash flood swept their boat.

The municipal disaster management office of Guiguinto town posted a message of condolences to the families of those who died, calling them heroes.

No deaths or injuries were reported so far in the provinces of Quezon and Aurora, where Karding made its two landfalls Sunday afternoon and evening, members of the disaster management council said during a Monday morning briefing attended by President Ferdinand R. Marcos, Jr.

The typhoon slightly weakened after landfall and was moving westward towards the West Philippine Sea and Vietnam as of Monday morning, according to state weather agency PAGASA’s 11 a.m. bulletin.

“This tropical cyclone is forecast to re-intensify beginning tonight or tomorrow early morning as the typhoon moves over the West Philippine Sea,” PAGASA said.

Karding was expected to leave the Philippine area by Monday evening.

Clearing operations were underway across the typhoon’s path as some of the estimated 74,000 people who were evacuated started to go back home, according to the disaster management council.

Relief operations were also ongoing for those affected by the calamity, including families in and outside evacuation centers.

Mr. Marcos told a news briefing that authorities have prepared relief packs and cash for those affected by the storm, including allocations that will be airlifted to isolated areas and island towns.

In a statement on Monday, Interior Secretary Benjamin C. Abalos, Jr. said a total of 8,642 police officers and 11,619 firefighters were deployed to aid in heavily affected areas.

In Nueva Ecija, the provincial government has declared a state of calamity due to massive flooding that affected homes and farmlands.

Meanwhile, the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP) said on Monday that operations of airports in areas hit by Karding remained normal.

A total of 41 flights to and from the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA), however, were canceled on Monday, according to the Manila International Airport Authority (MIAA).

“Apart from the 41 canceled flights today, the MIAA Management expects flight operations to normalize within the day as Typhoon Karding continues to move further away from Luzon,” the agency said in a statement, citing the latest bulletin issued by the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA).

Flag carrier Philippine Airlines, Inc. said it was mobilizing to resume full operations at the Manila airport.

“Some flights may need to be delayed or adjusted. It will take some time to restore normal schedules even after the typhoon recedes and the weather improves,” the airline said in a statement.

On telecommunications, Globe Telecom, Inc. said it was restoring services in typhoon-hit areas in Luzon.

“In the National Capital Region, all communication lines have been restored and are now completely functional,” the Ayala-led company said in an e-mailed statement.

At the same time, service in most of Quezon’s Polillo Group of Islands, which is a heavily impacted area, has been restored.

“Call, text and data service are back up in Burdeos, Patnanungan, Polillo, and Jomalig, with only Panukulan left to be restored,” Globe said.

It added that in Rizal province, 80% of municipalities have also been reconnected.

For its part, the PLDT group said emergency service stations for free charging and free WiFi were set up in the hardest hit areas.

“PLDT and Smart Foundation, together with Tulong Kapatid, the consortium of companies and foundations led by Manuel V. Pangilinan, will deliver relief assistance to communities heavily affected by Karding starting tomorrow,” it said in a statement.

The Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) said there were nine roads that were still closed as of 12 noon Monday due to the typhoon.

“One road in the Cordillera Administrative Region, one in Region 1, two in Region 2, four in Region 3, and one in Region 4-A were still closed due to safety reasons, damaged pavement, landslides, flooding, and fallen electrical post brought about by the typhoon,” the department said in a statement.

The department said its quick-response teams in typhoon-affected areas were directed to step up clearing operations to restore mobility and support the government’s relief operations.

Damage sustained by electric cooperatives (ECs) was so far estimated at P2.45 million, while several areas in Luzon are still experiencing total power interruption, the Department of Energy (DoE) said on Monday.

According to the latest report of the National Electrification Administration to the department, seven ECs are under total power interruption due to unavailable transmission lines.

These are: Aurora Electric Cooperative, Inc.; Tarlac I Electric Cooperative; Tarelco II; Nueva Ecija 1 Electric Cooperative, Inc. (NEECO I); NEECO II A1; NEECO II A2; and  San Jose City Electric Cooperative.

“For our transmission lines, NGCP (National Grid Corporation of the Philippines) is working on the restoration of five 69-kilovolt lines, some are still not available,” Magnolia B. Olvido, head of DoE’s Task Force on Energy Resiliency secretariat said during a virtual press briefing.

Ms. Olvido said these transmission lines are within Aurora and Nueva Ecija, while partial restoration has been done in Tarlac.

For power generation plants, Ms. Olvido said that as of 1:00 pm on Monday, almost all power plants were under normal operation.

Manila Electric Co. (Meralco), the country’s biggest electricity distributor, recorded momentary and sustained power interruptions across its franchise affecting 1.24 million customers.

Of the total affected customers, 437,525 were tagged as sustained interruptions while 800,301 were momentary interruptions.

Energy Undersecretary Felix William B. Fuentebella said the DoE would implement a price freeze for kerosene and household liquified petroleum gas (LPG) in areas that are under a state of calamity.

At the House of Representatives, a solon called on Mr. Marcos’ administration to grant a P15,000 production subsidy to farmers affected by the super typhoon.

“We will push for the inclusion of the P15,000 production subsidy for 9.7 million farmers and fisherfolk in the proposed 2023 budget,” Party-list Rep. Arlene D. Brosas said in a statement.

Ms. Brosas said the fund can be sourced from the “obscure lump sum items” included in the proposed 2023 expenditure program, such as “redundant” support funds for local government units and the national anti-communist task force.

She also said the President can use the available balance from contingent and parts of unprogrammed funds for rice farmers’ cash assistance.

Ms. Brosas, along with Party-list Reps. France L. Castro and Raoul Danniel A. Manuel, on Monday also filed House Bill 5152, which seeks to establish evacuation centers in every city and municipality in the country.

During the disaster management council meeting, Social Welfare Secretary Erwin T. Tulfo proposed the construction of one evacuation center for each municipality so that classes could continue in the aftermath of calamities.

“Covered courts, small barangay halls, and schools became the make-shift evacuation centers for affected Filipinos,” Ms. Castro said in a press statement. “We hope that the bill would be classified as urgent by the Malacañang and the House leadership because time is of the essence so that we can save more lives.”

The immediate approval of the bill was sought so that funding can still be included in the 2023 proposed budget that is currently under deliberation in Congress. — John Victor D. Ordoñez, Arjay L. Balinbin, Ashley Erika O. Jose, and Kyanna Angela Bulan