Sanctions up vs. hoarding, overpricing

Malacañang on Tuesday appealed to those affected by the eruption of Taal Volcano to cooperate with the authorities and to use masks to protect themselves from hazardous ashfall.

READ: Taal rumbles, spews ash

Presidential Spokesman Salvador Panelo said those in Batangas and other nearby areas classified by authorities as dangerous or “high-risk” should heed the call of the government to ensure their safety.

“I am urging those who are watching to listen to government announcements in relation to your area and listen carefully because those will help you to ensure your safety,” Panelo said in a televised news conference.

In related developments:

• Health Secretary Francisco Duque III said sanctions will be imposed on hoarders and those who will jack up the prices of face masks, one of the protections used against ashfalls.

Senator Aquilino Pimentel III said he had been receiving complaints about the sudden and excessive costs of face masks. 

READ: Face masks overcharging: Field agents checking

• The Manila City government on Tuesday received 1,000 KN90 face masks from the Chinese Embassy.

The masks were originally intended for Chinese Embassy officials, but the embassy decided to donate them to the City of Manila.

Manila Mayor Francisco “Isko” Domagoso expressed his gratitude and guaranteed that the masks would be distributed to the victims of the Taal Volcano eruption.

• As the supply of N95 masks thinned out, their prices also went up from P40 per piece to as high as P80 per piece on Tuesday morning.

Unlike the situation on Monday, no more lines of people could be seen along Bambang Street in Manila as the supply of N95 masks ran out in some stores. Those that still had supplies were selling them for P100 apiece.

• Justice department said no prisoners inside the New Bilibid Prison had experienced health problems as a result of the ashes belching out of Taal Volcano.

Justice Undersecretary Deo Marco said the Bureau of Corrections Director General Gerald Bantag reported that the NBP only experienced minimal ashfall and that all the prisoners were safe.

Panelo said those who in the evacuation areas should avoid returning to their homes until permitted by the authorities.

“Do not go back to your homes yet because it is not yet safe,” he said.

Meanwhile, the Health department said the public should be creative in using ordinary items as protective masks, such as underwear and wet diapers, since the ashfall posed danger to humans, particularly to those with respiratory problems.

Health Assistant Secretary Maria Laxamana also urged those in Metro Manila to avoid hoarding N95 masks—or those recommended by experts to filter the air from harmful particles, saying those should be given first to the residents near Taal.

A day after the start of the volcanic ashfall, supplies of face masks have started to run out in some stores in Metro Manila.

Laxamana said the department was giving priority to providing N95 masks to the areas directly affected by the ashfall.

“Let’s not use N95 masks here in Metro Manila. Let’s give it first to our countrymen in Batangas, Cavite, Quezon, and Laguna who will need it,” she said.

She said bras and panties, as well as diapers, could be used as an alternative to the N95 masks.

Responding to reports that some horses and dogs died in Batangas after the eruption of Taal, Assistant Secretary Casiano Monilla of the Office of Civil Defense also raised the possibility of evacuating animals to safer areas, although he could not tell when. With Macon Ramos-Araneta, Willie Casas, and Rey E. Requejo    

READ: Atom-bomb like blast feared

Topics: Taal Volcano , Salvador Panelo , Francisco Duque III , Aquilino Pimentel III
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