Duterte withdraws cops, soldiers from Taal-affected areas
Duterte said it would be up to local governments and the police units based in the danger zones to enforce the law once the troop withdrawal is completed.
PPD/Ace Morandante
Duterte withdraws cops, soldiers from Taal-affected areas
Alexis Romero (The Philippine Star) - January 30, 2020 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — President Duterte is withdrawing police and military personnel deployed in areas affected by Taal Volcano’s unrest, saying they have already inhaled “about one sack of ash.”

Duterte said it would be up to local governments and the police units based in the danger zones to enforce the law once the troop withdrawal is completed.

“I’m withdrawing my police and...They have been there for so many weeks already. Their lungs are already filled with ash. I pity them... I’d leave it to the mayor and to the police, the police who are assigned there. There’s a police station there,” he said during the anniversary of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) yesterday in Quezon City. 

“I’d leave it to them to enforce the law as mandated by the authorities upstairs,” he added.

The President said the families of the government troops sent to the Taal area are also worried about their safety. 
Enough funds

Meanwhile, the DSWD assured the public that the agency has enough resources to assist local government units (LGUs) in extending relief and shelter assistance to more than 100,000 families displaced by the explosion of Taal Volcano in Batangas last Jan. 12 even as the alert level has been lowered.

The DSWD said that it has a total of P910,245,390.43 in standby funds as well as a stockpile of food and non-food items to be distributed to the LGUs that may need relief goods for evacuees.

Their monitoring of the situation in Batangas has shown that there are still 109,054 families or 412,217 individuals in need of relief and assistance as of Jan. 28 as the alert level of Taal Volcano was lowered from 4 to 3.

The DSWD has so far provided P13,023,728.22 worth of augmentation assistance to affected families. The assistance, consisting of 29,043 family food packs, 6,360 ready-to-eat food, 1,870 sleeping kits and 4,643 plastic mats were issued as support based on the requests of the LGUs.

Evacuees

Maj. Gen. Arnulfo Burgos Jr., commander of the Army’s 2nd Infantry Division, said around 40 to 50 percent of evacuees have returned to their homes after the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs) lowered to Alert Level 3 the status of Taal.

“With the lockdown lifted in more areas around the restive Taal and the lowering of alert level from 4 to 3, the evacuees were allowed to look after their property including to take care of their animals, clean their houses,” Burgos said.

Brig. Gen. Marceliano Teofilo, commander of Joint Task Force Taal, said yesterday that the lockdown of four out of 10 barangays had been lifted and evacuees were allowed to go home to their villages within in the 14-kilometer danger zone around Taal Volcano.  – With Rainier Allan Ronda, Jaime Laude, Ed Amoroso, Gerry Lee Gorit

ARNULFO BURGOS JR. DSWD
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