Cagayan residents keep cool amid hot North Korea rocket talk


NORTH KOREA ROCKET PLAN. North Korea has said the rocket will travel south towards the Philippines or Indonesia.

BAYOMBONG, Nueva Vizcaya—While national government officials worry about North Korea’s launching a rocket this week, residents of Cagayan are taking the matter in stride.

Provincial officials on Tuesday said they believed there was no reason for any major preparation, as there was little likelihood that debris from the rocket launch would fall in the province and injure people.

“The truth is we cannot really do anything about it,” said Chief Superintendent Rodrigo de Gracia, Cagayan Valley police director. “If [North Korea] wants to launch, they will launch.”

De Gracia said, however, that provincial officials would still comply with a directive from the national government to prepare for the launch.

The National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Center (NDRRMC) on Tuesday urged local officials in northeastern Luzon to prepare evacuation plans.

Up to local gov’t

After earlier saying there was no need for evacuations, NDRRMC Executive Director Benito Ramos said Tuesday that these were necessary because the rocket could veer off the projected flight path and shower debris on land if it broke into parts.

Ramos said, however, that it was up to local governments to decide whether to order preemptive evacuations ahead of the missile launch, expected any day between April 12 and 16.

“We are looking at [evacuation] as a possibility,” Ramos told reporters. “You have to consider all possibilities. That’s one of the things we’re considering.”

Ramos said the NDRRMC was “practically talking of the entire Luzon.”

Preemptive evacuations

The worst that could happen, he said, is having numerous casualties caused by a large piece of rocket debris falling on a populated area.

So local governments should consider preemptive evacuations, Ramos said. Even Metro Manila must prepare an evacuation plan, he added.

The NDRRMC has declared a no-fly zone and ordered ships and fishing boats to stay away from waters in northeastern Luzon from April 12 to 16. The area extends 190 nautical miles northeast of Santa Ana, Cagayan, up to 150 nautical miles directly east of Polilio island in Quezon.

On Monday, Ramos urged residents of Cagayan, Isabela, Aurora, Quezon, Camarines Norte and Camarines Sur to stay indoors from April 12 to 16.

Better ‘OA’ than no ‘A’

On Tuesday, he shrugged off criticisms that he was going overboard by recommending evacuations.

“It’s better to be OA”—overacting—“than No A”—no acting, he said.

Even Interior Secretary Jesse Robredo, he said, had ordered all governors and mayors in northern and eastern Luzon, including the Bicol provinces, to prepare contingency plans for aid and medical assistance.

He admitted, however, that the order to stay indoors would be difficult to enforce.

Still, the government is pressing preparations for the rocket launch. Presidential spokesperson Edwin Lacierda told a press briefing in Malacañang Tuesday that the government had contingency measures that would ensure public safety if North Korea went ahead with the rocket launch.

Six-party talks

Among the measures are a notice to airlines to avoid air corridors in northeastern Luzon and to all ships to stay clear of waters in that area, and evacuations to be conducted by the Department of Social Welfare and Development.

Commenting on Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile’s statement on Monday that the government should leave the rocket launch to the big powers to deal with, Lacierda said the government still supported the six-party talks for the resolution of North Korea’s nuclear ambitions.

The United States, Russia, China, Japan and South Korea are trying to bring North Korea back to the negotiations in exchange for easing UN-imposed sanctions over its nuclear-weapons program.

Going overboard

“We have always maintained that the six-party talks are the most effective means of addressing the North Korea issue,” Lacierda said. “So we agree with Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile.”

Also on Tuesday, left-leaning critics said the Aquino administration was going overboard in the controversy involving the rocket launch.

Pray, remember Skylab

Bayan Secretary General Renato Reyes said the government was only using the hoopla to justify the continued presence of US troops in the Philippines.

Catholic bishops advised the public not to panic and pray instead.

“Remember Skylab many years ago?” said Sorsogon Bishop Arturo Bastes, referring to the fall of a US space station in 1973. “Nothing happened [here].” With reports from Christine O. Avendaño, Leila B. Salaverria and Dona Z. Pazzibugan

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Disclaimer: The comments uploaded on this site do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of management and owner of We reserve the right to exclude comments that we deem to be inconsistent with our editorial standards.

  • mike139

    OA = 30% SOP…. Release the emergency fund, disaster fund, pork barrel fund, contigency fund, etc. fund at 30% SOP may pera na naman ang mga corrupt na opisyal. They’re praying that North Korea should do this everyday.

  • tumbokin

    “The truth is we cannot really do anything about it,” said Chief Superintendent Rodrigo de Gracia, Cagayan Valley police director …
    Sad but true.  We could always file a diplomatic protest as we always do  in the past but what good would that do.  Meek and weAK we are in terms of military hardware :)
    Pasalamat nalang tayo at announced yung lunch nila!

  • tino

    PHL gov’t stop the insanity! you’re creating chaos to the people of north, enough already, this rocket has no affect whatsoever! calm down.

    • sowhatifimfilipino

      What is sooo wrong with having a plan? When an unpredictable earthquake hits and there are thousands of casualties, people blame the government for having no plan. What is so wrong with being pro-active? Whether or not the North Korean rocket will fail, it will be good for the government to have a crisis management plan which it obviously lacks. 

  • oozingkev

    the probability na makakaapekto sa pilipinas ang debris mula sa rocket launch is negligible. Dalawa lang ang OA dito ang gobyerno at ang media. 

  • dyan

    The weakest nation in Asia  . .. .  sino pa eh di Pinas.   kaya ang lakas ng loob ng Nokor na dito sa pinas ang daan ng kanila rocket, missile or what.  Padaanin nila sa japan, south korea, china or taiwan tiyak na pababagsakin eto.  Kanino kasalanan?  Ang bulok na government natin.

    • Pauline

      The weakest nation in Asia is LAOS. kaya nga Laos ang name ng country nila kasi laos sila.

  • goldilock

    Charge North Korea with and must be payable after launch.

    1. Dumping hazardous waste – $ 100 million fine.
    2. Endangering peoples lives. – $ 200 million fine.
    3. Assaulting Philippine airspace $ 500 million fine.
    4. Commercial plane stoppage $ 100 million loss of revenue.
    5. AFP mobilization to areas affected $ 500 million salary plus logistics.
    6. add more.

    • gerrkits

      that should be the case, but i think your suggested fine is so small, why not change the million to billion. 

      • goldilock

        North Korea has no money.

  • joboni96

    syang dapat

    cool talaga ang mga manongs
    led by the senate president manong johny

    di tulad ng mga alarmist u.s. collaborators
    di makapagunggagang gamitin ang
    nokor empty falling cylinder
    para sumipsip sa among u.s.

    sa agendang pananakot
    para cover at rason sa
    pagbabalik ng mga stealth u.s. bases

  • mfdo

    evacuate ?  it must be the most dumbest exercise in the world.

    as if they know where the rocket parts will drop .. so evacuate everybody, so the thieves can run amock ..  well, sometimes I wonder if priorities are screwed or somebody is super clever to predict where the debris is fall ..

  • Foreigner

    Interesting map. If the missile stays on track, it will avoid S Korea, Taiwan, Japan and Luzon. It will however pass over the center of Mindanao. Would it be a coincidence the missile violates the air-space of the US’s closest ally in SE Asia?

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