President Rodrigo Duterte has assured the public that the government has enough funds and resources to help those affected by the eruption of Taal Volcano.
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The President on Monday also said all government resources were brought to the affected areas and floated the possibility of giving free face masks
to protect the public against hazardous ashfall.
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“All government resources have been brought there including human workers. We have anticipated it,” Duterte said in chance interview with reporters.
Duterte said the distribution of face masks can be done through the help of the military and the police deployed in the affected areas.
Duterte also warned those who hoard face masks and sell them at a higher price that their goods would be seized.
The President also said he will visit the areas affected by the eruption despite his doctor’s warning that the ashfall might be bad for his lungs.
“I want to go around. I want to visit all the affected areas. I’m warned by doctor to be careful,” he said, pointing to an air purifier around his neck.
Pressed if he could still survey the affected areas despite the risks on his health, Duterte said: “I can eat that ashfall. I can even pee in Taal [Volcano].”
The Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology has raised Alert Level 4 over Taal Volcano, which means “hazardous eruption is possible within days.”
PHIVOLCS also recommended evacuation of all residents within the 14-kilometer radius of the volcano due to “high risk to pyroclastic density currents and volcanic tsunami.”
At least 10,000 residents have been evacuated in Batangas, Cavite and other areas.
Suspension of classes at all levels and work in government in the province of Batangas remained in force on Tuesday due to the heightened activity of Taal Volcano.
However, government workers in the National Capital Region and Region 3, and CALABARZON (Region IV-A) resumed Tuesday.
Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano on Tuesday directed specific committees of the House of Representatives to come up with a comprehensive rehabilitation plan to help the severely affected municipalities and cities in Batangas, Cavite, and Laguna.
The committees include House committees on disaster management, agriculture, tourism; and trade and industry.
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“We know that the local government units and other government agencies are already handling the rescue and relief operations so Congress can focus more on planning for the rehabilitation efforts,” Cayetano said in a statement.
“A comprehensive rehabilitation plan will entail funding, logistical and operational support from various national government agencies. Different House committees and relevant government agencies, as well as other urban planning experts, can work on this plan to ensure that it is disaster-resilient and sustainable,” Cayetano said.
PHIVOLCS earlier announced that prolonged eruption of up to seven months could be the worst-case scenario for the volcano’s intense activities.
“We need to collectively develop for short-term and long-term plans to restore and rehabilitate the affected areas to reinvigorate tourism and business in the affected provinces the soonest time possible,” Cayetano said.
The 2020 General Appropriations Act allocates a total of P16 billion for the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Fund. Out of this amount, there is P3.3 billion for aid and relief and rehabilitation services to communities affected by calamities and P4.2 billion allocated for repair and reconstruction of permanent structures including capital expenditures. It also provides for P3.5 billion for Marawi Recovery, Rehabilitation and Reconstruction Program and P5 billion for Comprehensive aid to repair earthquake damage for Region XI (Davao Region) and Region XII (Soccskargen).
Senator Christopher Go, meanwhile, urged the public to cooperate, be informed, and to remain calm amid the damage caused by Taal’s eruption.
Go said the President has been in contact with government agencies, giving them orders to immediately address the problems caused by the eruption.
The President, he said, is also concerned about the effect of the eruption will have on the economy and the livelihood of Filipinos.
Meanwhile, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources cautioned the public against inhaling smaller volcanic ash. Its air quality monitoring system in Las Piñas City confirmed the Presence of Particulate Matter (PM) 10 in the air in Metro Manila which is unhealthy to people with respiratory ailments. What is particularly dangerous is PM2.5 which is far smaller and invisible. When inhaled, it may go directly to the lungs and be absorbed by the bloodstream, the department said.
The Department of Trade and Industry has also dispatched teams to monitor prices of dust masks, particularly the N95 mask recommended by health authorities to prevent inhalation of the dangerous volcanic ash.
DTI warned that it will not hesitate to file appropriate charges against unscrupulous store owners who take advantage of the situation by raising their prices.
The Department of Interior and Local Government is also working with several local government units, particularly in Metro Manila, regarding this skyrocketing prices of N95 masks.
The Philippine National Police has issued its full alert status for all units and offices in its national headquarters, CALABARZON, Central Luzon, and National Capital Region. All police personnel were directed to be ready for deployment to assist in disaster and relief operations.
The Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) has already deployed its personnel and equipment to assist in rescue and evacuation. The AFP and PNP have been deploying trucks and personnel.
The Department of Transportation is also working to fix transportation services, especially affected airports and seaports. It has also placed several buses on standby for possible deployment to assist stranded passengers.
DSWD officials and personnel are already on the ground to assist affected communities, especially those in evacuation centers. Relief, food packs, and sleeping kits are being provided.
Three cities and 14 towns in Batangas and Cavite have conducted their own emergency evacuations already.
Senate President Vicente Sotto III, meanwhile, said Executive Secretary Samuel Medialdea would consider his recommendation to seed the clouds to get rid of ashfall debris.
The Air Force, he said, has already been informed about his suggestion.
Senator Panfilo Lacson said Sotto’s cloud seeding proposal makes of sense because rain will allow dust particles to settle.
Also on Tuesday, Rep. Elpidio Barzaga Jr. called for a congressional investigation over the lack of warning from Phivolcs of Taal’s eruption.
“It cannot be overemphasized that PHILVOCS has the duty to assess and timely communicate information about volcanic hazards and make real-time warnings of volcanic activity in order to prevent loss of life and property,” Barzaga said in his resolution.
Former senator Ferdinand Marcos Jr. on Tuesday initiated a relief campaign to help families affected by the recent activity of Taal Volcano.
“Situations like these call for swift action. Ensuring that help reaches those who need it the most should be the top priority for any disaster response. Our experience with Yolanda in Leyte has taught us this fact,” said Marcos.
Marcos’ friends and supporters from the private sector responded positively to his calls for donations.
“At the rate, help is pouring in, we will have enough to conduct an initial relief run in the coming weeks if not days. I feel humbled and thankful with how people have responded thus far,” Marcos said.
In place of cash, Marcos encouraged donors to provide much-needed items such as the following; N95 face mask, bottled water, canned goods, instant noodles, milk for infants, rice, medicines, and blankets.
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