Duterte, Go conduct aerial inspection of areas around Taal Volcano
MANILA, Philippines — President Rodrigo Duterte and Sen. Christopher Lawrence “Bong” Go conducted an aerial inspection to assess the damage caused by Taal Volcano on their way to Manila from Davao City on Monday morning, Jan. 13.
“Talagang sinadya namin ng Pangulo na dumaan para makita kahit aerial man lang na view ano’ng kasalukuyang nangyayari sa Taal Volcano,” Go said in an interview. “Pinaikutan ng Pangulo sa eroplano ang (malalapit na lugar sa) bulkan, at tiningnan niya rin ang (epekto sa) Metro Manila.”
[The President and I passed over the area so that we could see, if only from an aerial view, what’s happening with Taal Volcano. The President asked the airplane pilot to get near the volcano, and he also observed the effect it had on Metro Manila.]
In touch with agencies
According to Go, the President has been in contact with government agencies, giving them orders to immediately address the problems caused by the eruption.
“Ang sabi niya, importante dito lahat ng ahensya ng gobyerno ay nakatutok, handang rumesponde, lalo na ang DSWD [Department of Social Welfare and Development],” he said.
[He said it was important for all agencies of the government to focus and be ready to respond, espsecially the DSWD.]
“Kanina po nakausap niya ang hepe ng Air Force na sumalubong sa kanya, at nag-deploy naman po sila ng eroplano at handa po silang tumulong kaagad. Ang Department of Health, pakinggan natin ang kanilang mga payo, lalong lalo na sa ating kalusugan,” he went on.
[Earlier, he talked with the chief of the Air Force who welcomed him, and they deployed planes and they’re ready to help immediately. As to the Department of Health, let’s listen to its advice, especially on health.]
The Air Force is led by Lt. Gen. Rozzano D. Briguez.
“Sa ngayon po ay pinapa-check niya lahat. Hinihingi niya ang reports, lalong-lalo na po sa mga bayan na talagang tinamaan. At ako naman bilang committee chair sa Senado sa health ay kausap ko rin po si Health Secretary Francisco Duque paano tayo makakatulong. Sa abot ng aking makakaya po ay tutulong po kami,” he added.
[As of now, he’s having everything checked. He’s been asking for reports, especially from the affected towns. As for me, as chair of the Senate health committee, I talked with Health Secretary Francisco Duque about how we could help. We will give whatever help we can.]
Concerned about effects on economy
Go said the President was also concerned with the effect of the eruption on the economy and to the livelihood of Filipinos.
“Talagang worried po ang ating Pangulo dahil malaking kawalan po ito, lalong-lalo na po sa businesses dahil magiging paralyzed po ang negosyo, trabaho. Malaking kawalan po ‘yun sa ating bayan,” he said.
[Our President is really worried because of the big loss, particularly those businesses and jobs that have been paralyzed. There’s a big loss to our country.]
The President was supposed to go back to Manila on Sunday evening, but his flight was canclled due to the closure of the Ninoy Aquino International Airport.
“Nagsara po ang airport hanggang kaninang umaga. In fact, kami po ang unang nag-landing kanina sa NAIA. At hindi kami pinababa doon sa tarmac o kung saan dapat bumaba dahil masyadong marami pang ashes sa runway,” Go said.
[The airport was closed until this morning. In fact, we were the first to land at NAIA. And we were not allowed to get down on the tarmac because there was just so much ash on the runway.]
Meanwhile, Go urged the public to cooperate with the government in order to help those most affected by the disaster. He also urged the public to be informed and follow the advisories of concerned agencies, especially from DOH.
“Importante po ang kalusugan. Stay indoors and keep your family safe. If kailangan lumabas, magsuot ng tamang mask para maprotektahan ang sarili sa ashfall,” Go said.
[Health is important. Stay indoors and keep your family safe. If you need to go out, wear a mask to protect yourself from the ashfall.]
The DOH has already issued several health advisories and guidelines on how the public should act to protect themselves from the effects of the disaster. It’s are also providing health kits, masks, eye drops and medicines to affected communities.
The DOH delivered to affected LGUs around 20,000 dust masks and will conduct an emergency procurement of 300,000 more for distribution to affected areas. It will also be distributing eyedrops in affected areas and will closely monitor evacuation centers.
Meanwhile, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) 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 PM 2.5, which is far smaller and invisible. When inhaled, it may go directly to the lungs and be absorbed by the bloodstream.
The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) 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.
Warning unscrupulous store owners
DTI also warned that it would not hesitate to file appropriate charges against unscrupulous store owners who would take advantage of the situation by raising their prices.
The Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) is also working with several local government units (LGUs), particularly in Metro Manila, regarding the skyrocketing prices of N95 masks.
The Philippine National Police (PNP) has issued its full alert status for all units and offices in its national headquarters, Calabarzon, Central Luzon, and Metro Manila. All police personnel were directed to be ready for deployment to assist in disaster and relief operations.
The Department of Agriculture (DA) has directed its regional office in Calabarzon to conduct initial damage assessments of affected farmers and fishermen.
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 (DOTr) is also working double time 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 goods, food packs, and sleeping kits are being provided.
Three cities and 14 towns in Batangas and Cavite have conducted their own emergency evacuations already. As of 6 a.m. on Monday, Jan. 13, DSWD – Calabarzon reported that at least 15,000 affected individuals were already staying inside 62 evacuation centers.
DSWD has 4,863 family food packs worth P1.77 million and non-food items worth P6 million available in its Greater Metro Manila warehouse. A P5.2 million standby fund is also available.
Batangas is already under a state of calamity, allowing the provincial government to access its disaster funds.
Call for bayanihan
“We appeal to the public to cooperate with our government agencies and be one with our people as we go through this situation as one nation,” he said. “Magbayanihan po tayo. Siguraduhing ligtas ang ating mga pamilya at maghanda rin po tayo ng kung ano mang kaya natin maitulong sa ating kapwa na pinaka nangangailangan.”
[Let’s do bayanihan. Let’s make sure that our families are safe and let’s prepare whatever we can that can help others in need.”
“We also urge the public to be informed. Read and listen to advisories from authorities and experts. The best way to help is to make sure that we are informed on what to do to protect ourselves and help those in need. Please also refrain from spreading unverified information. Hindi po ito nakakatulong,” he added.
Lastly, Go urged the public to remain calm and reflect on what they can do to help fellow Filipinos.
“Sa mga oras na ito tayo pinakakailangang magkaisa. Isantabi muna ang pansariling interes para makatulong at makapagserbisyo sa kapwa,” he said.
[It’s at this time that we need to be united. Let’s set aside our selfish interests so that we can help and be of service to others.]
“Together as one nation, let us pray for our country and do what we can to help our fellow Filipinos,” he added.
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