Author Topic: What does the term “Philippine area of responsibility” mean?  (Read 45431 times)

Joe Carillo

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This was sent in by e-mail by Mr. Juanito T. Fuerte today, October 25, 2010:

Hi, Joe,
 
You’re an expert in English grammar, semantics and all that jazz concerning the proper or improper use of words so, I’m asking for your help to answer this question: Whenever an approaching hurricane (or, typhoon as it’s normally called here) gets within a certain geographical limits of the Philippines, why do the media always say that typhoon so and so is now in the “Philippines’ area of responsibility”?
 
And since the word “responsibility” encompasses a whole range of meanings, just what is the Philippines’ responsibility to a typhoon that has entered its “area of responsibility”?  I’m sure we don’t baby-sit it nor nurture it. Do we, perhaps, try like hell to tame it so that it doesn’t throw it’s tantrum on our waters, cities, and shores? I’m also sure that we keep track of it. But, does that mean that the responsibility for tracking it is solely ours and not of other countries while it remains within our “area of responsibility”?
 
If that is so, what happens once it moves out of the PAR (Philippines’ area of responsibility) and enters another country’s territorial limits? Would that country accept responsibility for it?

Please help, Joe. I’m trying hard to understand the Philippine media talk.
 
Here’s my reply to Juanito:

The term “Philippine area of responsibility” does sound very officious and intimidating when used in relation to the typhoons that periodically hit the country. I must point out, though, that it isn’t a term coined by the Philippine media nor by the national weather bureau or PAGASA (an acronym for Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services). The term “area of responsibility” was actually coined by the United States military to denote a pre-defined geographic region assigned to its combatant commanders, but it is now also widely used in oceanography and weather forecasting—and, of course, in media’s weather reporting as well.

In general terms, the Area Of Responsibility (AOR) defines an area with specific geographic boundaries for which a person or organization bears a certain responsibility. For the Philippines, its area of responsibility isn’t meant to define its internationally recognized territory, and it isn’t a measure either of its land mass or what is referred to as “Philippine soil.” Indeed, although the Philippines has a total land area of 300,000 sq. km (115,830 sq. miles), the so-called “Philippine area of responsibility” covers something like 9-11 multiples of that area in terms of sea and land combined.

Below is the Philippine Area of Responsibility or PAR as shown on the world map:


Within the Philippine area of responsibility as shown above, the PAGASA is mandated to monitor tropical cyclone activity and to make the necessary warnings. It is mandated by law to issue bulletins every six hours for all tropical cyclones within this area that have made or are anticipated to make landfall within the Philippines, or every 12 hours when cyclones are not affecting land. (Last July, in response to the heavy casualties and devastation wrought by Typhoon Basyang in the National Capital Region, President Benigno Aquino III ordered that PAGASA issue bulletins about approaching typhoons more often as necessary than just every six hours.)

You may want to check a posting I made in the Forum in November of 2009 where I gave a detailed technical description of the Philippine PAR to a Forum member who was not only intrigued but annoyed by media’s incessant use of the term.

I hope that this has adequately answered your questions about the typhoon terminologies used in the Philippines.
« Last Edit: October 31, 2010, 10:03:27 PM by Joe Carillo »