DILG Assistant Secretary Epimaco Densing III said his agency has issued a memorandum to Tagaytay Mayor Agnes Tolentino asking her to ensure that no commercial establishment would operate while Taal remains restive. ?
AFP/Ted Aljibe
Defiant businesses in Tagaytay risk closure
Louella Desiderio (The Philippine Star) - January 21, 2020 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — Businesses in Tagaytay City are likely to face closure if they resume operations while Alert Level 4 remains raised over Taal Volcano, an official of the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) warned yesterday. 

DILG Assistant Secretary Epimaco Densing III said his agency has issued a memorandum to Tagaytay Mayor Agnes Tolentino asking her to ensure that no commercial establishment would operate while Taal remains restive. ?

Alert Level 4 means that a hazardous eruption is imminent. It is characterized by earthquake swarms, volcanic tremor and frequent strong ash explosions.?“If they do not follow the mayor, the mayor can close them down. They can cancel their mayor’s permit or operating permit,” Densing told reporters in Malacañang.

 ?“We can send the Philippine National Police to close them down to ensure that they follow the order that (there would be) no commercial operations at least within 14-kilometer danger zone,” he added. ?Densing said the memorandum was sent to the Tagaytay local government last Tuesday. Earlier reports said some commercial establishments in the city have resumed operations despite warnings by government scientists that an explosive eruption of Taal Volcano is possible. ?“There was a meeting and businesses are already complaining. We understand but safety first before profit,” he said. 

DILG spokesman Undersecretary Jonathan Malaya echoed the same sentiments earlier in the day, saying commercial establishments in the affected areas, including Tagaytay, must stay closed.

The DILG’s declaration is the latest on the issue, following a pronouncement from Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez that based on his conversation with Interior Secretary Eduardo Año, establishments in Tagaytay are no longer barred from resuming operations. 

Lopez made it clear, however, that establishments in Tagaytay should heed government warnings and “follow authorities.”

He also advised business establishments to be ready for any eventuality. “They should be ready with quick evacuation plan, with logistics,” he said. 

The Department of Trade and Industry will provide livelihood assistance to affected individuals. Lopez said a P50-million fund from the Pondo ng Pagbabago at Pag-asenso (P3) program will serve as financing for affected micro entrepreneurs.

“What we are addressing are the profiling of MSMEs (micro, small and medium enterprises) which would need our help,” he said.

Meanwhile, Año was set to meet with Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano to discuss what form of assistance Congress can provide to areas adversely affected by the Taal crisis.

Densing confirmed that DILG officials would soon meet with Cayetano. “Hopefully, we can get additional funding through Congress or the funds of the Office of the President,” he said.?For municipal governments running out of calamity funds, Densing said they can seek assistance from the provincial government.?Civil defense assistant secretary Casiano Monilla said local governments may also request funds from the Office of Civil Defense and the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD).?DSWD spokesperson Irene Dumlao said the public is encouraged to coordinate with her agency’s donation management section to ensure that all affected communities would receive help. ?“It is very important to coordinate the assistance... to ensure that everyone will be given, no overserved, no underserved,” she said. ?Monilla said the local disaster management bodies have also been directed to rescue the animals owned by residents displaced by the Taal eruption, but they would not be allowed at evacuation centers.

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