An aerial view shows the landscape of Buso Buso covered in ash following the eruption Taal volcano on Jan. 19, 2020.
AFP/Ed Jones
Batangas town mayor welcomes resettlers from Taal lockdown areas
Arnell Ozaeta ( - January 25, 2020 - 1:23pm

BATANGAS, Philippines — Ibaan town mayor Joy Salvame will welcome all resettlers from lockdown areas in case the government implements a permanent relocation of people within the 14-kilometer danger zone. 

“As long as they are willing to be tedious in tilling the land, which is our main source of living here (agriculture), I think wala naman pong problema. Kasi ang iba nagsabi na sa amin na wiling na sila tumira dito sa Ibaan. Sa sitwasyon nila, kawawa talaga sila kung wala kang pupuntahan. (I think there won't any problem. Some said they would like to stay in Ibaan. It would be devastating if they have nowhere else to go),” Salvame said.

Recently, DILG Secretary Eduardo Año expressed support for the proposed permanent ban or relocation of families living within the danger zone surrounding Taal Volcano in Batangas.

Batangas Gov. Hermilando Mandanas likewise said he would abide by any order to permanently close the danger zone and relocate the affected residents.

At least seven municipalities have been placed on partial and total lockdown following the eruption of the volcano on January 12. 

Mandatory evacuation was implemented in 199 barangays in 15 municipalities and cities in Batangas and Cavite, which are areas identified as susceptible to ballistic projectiles, base surges and volcanic tsunami as a result of the eruption.

Meanwhile, Salvame has organized a program that will help evacuees, especially those who lost their job after the eruption.

“We already scheduled a PESO program for mass hiring, that’s the only thing we can do right now. May priority (sa hiring) ang displaced residents. Kahit hindi taga-Ibaan, para maka-resettle sila (Our priority for hiring are the displaced residents even those not from Ibaan so they can resettle),” she said.

At the moment, there are at least 8,000 evacuees housed in different facilities in Ibaan. 

Although Ibaan was spared from the ashfall, Salvame said she always feels nervous everytime there is a reported activity at Taal. 

“So far naman po napaka-welcoming ng ating town sa evacuees. But the thing I’m very worried about, ito ay hindi maikling laban, ito ay long-term (We are accommodating to evacuees. But what worries me is I know this isn't a brief challenge but a long-term fight)," the lady mayor said.

"Nag-compute kami sa 6,000 evacuees na lang kung ilang sacks of rice ang kakainin in 6 months time. That’s around P50 million bigas pa lang. So kahit 50% lang, P25 million. Saan namin kukunin yon? (We made a computation of how much sacks of rice are needed for 6,000 evacuees in six months. For the rice alone, we need around P50 million. Even if cut into half, that's P25 million. Where will we get that amount?)” she explained.

Salvame said Ibaan has P10-million calamity fund but her government is spending the P3 million at present, which is provided by the Office of the President. 

Salvame appealed to the donors: “Huwag sana sila mapagod, mas kailangan namin sila sa mahabang panahon (Hope they won't get tired. We need their help for as long as we can).”

She called on donors to coordinate first with the mayor's office for proper distribution of relief goods to evacuees.

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