Sep 052013

A proposal to name cyclones after corrupt government officials may have little chance of materializing as it could violate the state weather bureau’s rules, a senior weather forecaster said Thursday.

PAGASA forecaster Buddy Javier said that while it is “possible” to name a cyclone after a corrupt politicians, one of PAGASA’s rules is that a cyclone’s name must not have “negative or offensive” connotations.

“Bawal ang negative o offensive meanings (We cannot name a cyclone based on negative or offensive meanings),” Javier said in an interview on dzBB radio, referring to the rules established in 1999 in naming cyclones.

When asked if cyclones can be named after corrupt politicians, he said, “pwede siguro pero paguusapan yan. Matagal na paguusap yan (it’s possible but there would be a long discussion).”

An online signature campaign is now circulating to ask PAGASA to name cyclones after corrupt politicians, in the wake of the scandal involving pork barrel funds.

“The devastation they cause is so great… Mother Nature can’t even compete with them for the destruction of life and property,” said Ismael Tomelden of Marikina, who started the petition.

He added the petition aims to be “a constant reminder of how our hard-earned money has been stolen or misspent by corrupt politicians.”

Javier said other criteria for naming cyclones include:

– the name cannot start with ñ, ng, or x

– the name should not have more than nine letters and three syllables

– the name can refer to plants, places, or animals

Javier also said a cyclone name can be decommissioned if it causes at least P1 billion in damage and 300 dead.

At least 140 names

Earlier, PAGASA forecaster Gladys Saludes said that even if the proposal is okayed, there are at least 140 names to go before a corrupt official’s name can make it to the list.

“Sa alam ko parang imposible kasi meron tayong list ng names ng bagyo na paparating sa ating bansa (For now, I think it is impossible because we already have a list of names of cyclones),” she said in an interview on dzBB radio.

The names cannot be changed arbitrarily and a replacement name will be considered only if a name is stricken off the list because of the destruction it caused.

“Matagal pa kasi, pag naubos ang names sa destructive names. Pag naubos siguro ang reserve names (It will take quite some time. That is if the names of destructive cyclones are removed from the list.  Then the reserve names will also have to run out),” Saludes said.

PAGASA recently crossed off Labuyo from its list of cyclones after noting it caused more than P1 billion in damage to property, as well as 11 deaths.

PAGASA presently maintains four lists of at least 35 names each. Each list is used every four years, on a rotation basis.

Each list has 25 primary names – each name starting with a letter of the alphabet except X, and an auxiliary list of at least 10 extra names.  — ELR, GMA News

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