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House to help develop rehab plans for provinces hit by Taal eruption

/ 08:51 PM January 15, 2020
Residents cleaning ash from rooftops in Laurel

In this Jan. 14, 2020, photo, residents clean their roofs from volcanic ash in Laurel, Batangas province, as Taal volcano continues to spew ash. So far no one has been reported killed in the eruption, but the disaster is spotlighting the longstanding dilemma of how the government can move settlements away from danger zones threatened by volcanoes, landslides, floods and typhoons in one of the world’s most disaster-prone countries. (Photo by AARON FAVILA / AP)

MANILA, Philippines — House Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano has Leyte Rep. Lucy Torres-Gomez, chairperson of the House Committee on Disaster Management, to coordinate with other relevant committees in the House of Representatives like agriculture, tourism and trade and industry to start developing a comprehensive rehabilitation plan to help town and cities in Batangas, Cavite, and Laguna that were severely affected by the eruption of Taal Volcano.

“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 issued on Tuesday.

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“A comprehensive rehabilitation plan will entail funding, logistical and operational support from various national government agencies. Different House committees, 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 stressed.

Earlier, the Philippine Institute Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs) announced that a prolonged eruption that could last up to seven months could be the worst-case scenario for Taal Volcano.

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“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 the Marawi Recovery, Rehabilitation and Reconstruction Program and P5 billion for comprehensive aid to repair earthquake damage in the Davao Region (Region 11) and Soccskargen (Region 12).

Cayetano also calls for “bayanihan” amid the continuous volcanic activities and ashfall of Taal. He laments the loss of livelihood and damage to shelters to families living near the volcano.

“Let us stand strong with our countrymen who have been affected by Taal’s ashfall,” Cayetano said.

The Speaker also thanked the first responders and the local governments, especially in the areas near the volcano for taking immediate precautionary measures to ensure the safety and security of our constituents.

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Cayetano urged the public to extend a helping hand to those in need by volunteering at the Department of Social Welfare and Development.

“We have seen the power of Filipino bayanihan spirit in the past natural calamities that we have experienced, even in the past South East Asian Games. The volunteers can make a difference in delivering programs and services,” he added.

Since Monday, many nongovernment organizations and local government units outside of Batangas have already sent assistance to the affected communities and evacuation centers.

/atm

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TAGS: Alan Peter Cayetano, House of Representatives, Lucy Torres-Gomez, rehabilitation plans, Taal Volcano eruption
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