âFunds ready for Taal evacueesâ
?The Department of Environment and Natural Resources will conduct an information campaign on proper waste disposal in evacuation centers for residents displaced by the eruption of Taal Volcano.
Ted Aljibe/AFP
‘Funds ready for Taal evacuees’
Rhodina Villanueva, Helen Flores, Cecille Suerte Felipe, Jose Rodel Clapano, Delon Porcalla, Alexis Romero (The Philippine Star) - January 29, 2020 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — Malacañang has assured people displaced by Taal Volcano’s continuing unrest that the government is ready to allot funds for their needs.

“The President always thinks of the safety of our countrymen. If necessary, he will allocate funds for them,” presidential spokesman Salvador Panelo said at a press briefing yesterday. ?

“The President’s directive is always to secure their safety. So necessarily, all the appropriate agencies will respond to the directive,” he added. ?

Panelo said local governments are already providing assistance to the evacuees.?

“If there is anything lacking, that’s the time when the President would come in. But meanwhile, we are assisting in the evacuation,” he said, adding that the military is providing transportation to groups giving relief to the displaced families. 

?The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) will conduct an information campaign on proper waste disposal in evacuation centers for residents displaced by the eruption of Taal Volcano.

Alert level 3 remained hoisted over the volcano in Batangas yesterday as the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs) continued to record volcanic earthquakes in the past 24 hours.

“These earthquakes signify magmatic activity beneath the Taal edifice that could lead to eruptive activity at the main crater,” Phivolcs said in its latest bulletin.

The amount of sulfur dioxide emitted by the volcano in the past 24 hours, however, was “below instrumental detection,” the agency said. Sulfur dioxide is the main component of magma.

Phivolcs said the activity of Taal in the past 24 hours was characterized by a “weak to voluminous emission” of white to dirty white steam-laden plumes reaching 100 to 800 meters high that drifted southwest.

The Taal Volcano Network, which can record even small earthquakes, recorded 92 volcanic earthquakes, including four of low frequency.

Alert Level 3 means that sudden steam-driven and weak phreatomagmatic explosions, volcanic earthquakes, ashfall and lethal volcanic gas expulsions can still occur and threaten Volcano Island and nearby lakeshores, Phivolcs said.

The agency reminded the public that entry to Volcano Island as well as into areas over Taal Lake and communities west of the island within a seven-kilometer radius from the main crater is prohibited.

Red Cross eyes rehab

With Phivolcs lowering Taal Volcano’s alert status to Level 3, the Philippine Red Cross (PRC) is set to shift its operation in the area to rehabilitation.

Sen. Richard Gordon, PRC chairman, after a discussion with Batangas Gov. Hermilando Mandanas over the weekend, instructed PRC chapter administrator Ronald Generoso to conduct further discussion with the governor. Mandanas disclosed that they are planning to put up tent cities where evacuees can stay until they can move back to their homes.

“We can provide family tents to each family where they can sleep with privacy. But we will also set up halls which will serve as their dining areas, separate tents for socialization activities, place of worship and other group activities,” he assured the governor.

Gordon also disclosed there are national societies that committed to provide funding for the rehabilitation phase, which includes rebuilding damaged houses, schools and other buildings; providing livelihood and distributing cash grants.

“We are already coordinating with our partner national societies to ensure that, like how we worked in Yolanda, assistance will be distributed evenly to our target population, that the operation will be organized. What I am proposing is to use P2 million of the money that the Spanish Red Cross and the German Red Cross will donate to build houses. The important thing is to remove the pressure of evacuation from the schools so the children can resume their classes,” the PRC chairman said.

DENR Undersecretary Benny Antiporda said the department’s regional office will assist in the management of solid waste in evacuation centers in Batangas, Cavite and Laguna.

“You can expect from the DENR that we will act on it as early as now, rather than be taken aback by the mountains of garbage that will be produced as a result of this calamity brought by Taal Volcano,” he added.

He also appealed to the public to avoid donating single-use plastic cups, plates and utensils to evacuees since these items are environmentally unfriendly and could create another problem.

“Plastic forks, spoons, cups, plates and coffee stirrers may be convenient, but they are wreaking havoc on the environment,” Antiporda pointed out.

Albay Rep. Joey Salceda said there is no longer a need for the House of Representatives to approve the P30-billion supplemental budget for the rehabilitation of areas devastated by the eruption of Taal Volcano.

“I don’t think there’s a need for supplemental fund. No more need for a supplemental budget. We thought the eruption would go full blast that’s why we needed P30 billion to rebuild facilities, public infrastructure and livelihood support,” he said. 

Salceda, chairman of the House committee on ways and means, said the proposal could be converted to a more developmental purpose.

“What we need is a more developmental approach to the impacts of Taal eruption by way of creating south of Manila growth corridor, a re-launch of the Calabarzon,” Salceda said. “It will be part of the regular developmental process.”

He said the government has enough calamity funds even if the proposed P20 billion was reduced to P16 billion in the General Appropriations Act for this year, because this was augmented by an unused P7 billion in the 2019 budget that was carried over. 

All in all, this year’s budget for disasters is P23 billion. 

TAAL VOLCANO FUND
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