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Wednesday, May 29, 2024

5m to head out of Metro

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Agencies brace for Holy Week exodus; Pag-asa warns of high heat index

Around 5 million people are heading to their home provinces via land, sea, and air this year for the annual Holy Week exodus, government and transport officials said Tuesday.

But travelers and “staycationers” alike must deal with the rising temperatures of summer and high heat indexes, particularly in Metro Manila, the state weather bureau warned.

About 2.7 million people are expected to travel to and from provinces via the Parañaque Integrated Terminal Exchange and Ninoy Aquino International Airport, the Department of Transportation said.

Meanwhile, the Philippine Ports Authority expects that its forecast of 2 million passengers in various ports nationwide will be eclipsed by early Wednesday.

As for private land vehicles, the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority said there will be no number coding beginning Holy Wednesday until Monday next week.

The number coding scheme is automatically lifted on Maundy Thursday and Good Friday, both declared as regular holidays, and on Black Saturday and Easter Sunday. There is no number coding scheme on Saturdays and Sundays.

Meanwhile, in its regular weekly advisory, the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration said the heat index hit 42 degrees Celsius at its monitoring center at NAIA in Pasay City.

The heat index, also known as the apparent temperature, is what the temperature feels like to the human body when relative humidity is combined with the air temperature.

It felt even hotter at Roxas City in Capiz, where PAGASA said the heat index hit 44 degrees yesterday. The weather bureau also forecasts low-40s indexes in Palawan, Occidental Mindoro, Albay, Camarines Sur, Iloilo, Agusan del Norte, and the Bangsamoro region.

In preparation for the expected increase of air travelers, Transportation Secretary Jaime Bautista inspected the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines facility in Pasay City.

Bautista made the surprise visit at the Communications, Navigation and Surveillance/Air Traffic Management (CNS/ATM) of CAAP together with the agency’s Director General Capt. Manuel Tamayo.

During the inspection, Bautista checked that all CNS/ATM systems were operational. He also ensured that sufficient measures are in place to avoid any potential flight disruptions due to the surge of passengers expected during Holy Week.

Tamayo earlier imposed a “no leave policy” for essential operational staff to uphold the Transportation Office’s mandate of providing safe, accessible, and affordable public transportation for Filipinos.

As for seaports, PPA spokesperson Eunice Samonte said: “Based on our monitoring since Friday last week, the number of passengers was around 500,000 already.”

“That’s more than what we expected because our forecast was only 2 million passengers this Holy Week. We expect to breach the 2 million forecast,” she added.

As of 10 a.m. on Tuesday, the number of passengers arrived at the PITX bus terminal has reached 46,442, while the total number of passengers as of 7 p.m. on Monday was 113,500.

Kolyn Calbasa, PITX Corporate Affairs Officer, predicts that 1.7 million passengers will visit the terminal from March 22 to April 1, with Holy Wednesday expected to see a higher number of passengers at up to 160,000, compared to the usual foot traffic of 110,000-120,000.

According to terminal spokesman Jason Salvador, passengers ballooned from last Friday, leading to Holy Week, until their return after Easter Sunday.

At NAIA, airport general manager Eric Jose Ines said they are prepared for the anticipated one million passengers across four terminals from March 24 to March 31.

Ines anticipates a 15 percent increase in passenger volume during this year’s Holy Week compared to the 926,755 passengers that passed through NAIA from Palm Sunday to Easter Sunday last year.

From March 1 to March 14, passenger numbers reached 1,853,132, with a daily average of 132,367.

For this year’s Holy Week, passenger traffic could reach 140,000 on a single day, or close to the pre-pandemic Lenten season, which recorded 1,126,501 passengers over eight days, averaging 140,812 daily, he added.

The Philippine Coast Guard, meanwhile, monitored 48,256 outbound passengers and 38,396 inbound passengers in all ports nationwide last Monday.

The agency stated that 3,244 deployed frontline personnel in 15 districts have inspected 659 vessels and 904 motorboats.

The PCG has placed its districts, stations, and sub-stations on heightened alert from March 24 to 31 to manage the influx of port passengers.

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