Calabarzon’s state of calamity declaration quite late – Robredo camp
MANILA, Philippines – Vice President Leni Robredo’s spokesperson slammed the current administration for declaring a state of calamity in areas affected by the Taal Volcano eruption nearly two months after the incident.
According to lawyer Barry Gutierrez, they hope that the state of calamity declaration was not yet too late to assist the people suffering from the ashfall.
“The declaration of a state of calamity was quite late. We hope it would open funds for affected areas because I know the declaration of a state of calamity is a requirement for the opening of additional funds,” Gutierrez said in Filipino.
“So we hope, even if there were delays — today is March but the volcano’s eruption happened last January — the assistance needed by the people is provided,” he added.
Duterte signed Proclamation No. 906 last Feb. 21, placing the whole Calabarzon, or Region IV-A, which includes badly-hit provinces of Cavite and Batangas under a state of calamity.
In the proclamation, it was stated that the declaration would hasten the rescue, relief, recovery, and rehabilitation efforts of the government. However, as soon as the declaration was released, it came under heavy criticism as the Taal Volcano erupted last Jan. 12 — exactly one month and nine days before Duterte made such a move.
According to presidential spokesperson Salvador Panelo, Duterte’s proclamation is not late, as the effects of calamities are far-reaching and long-term and that assisting affected individuals is far from over.
“We hope Secretary Panelo is correct that, even if this was late, there is still a chance to reach people in need. Because that is what we all want, to help our countrymen in need,” Gutierrez said.
Gutierrez also warned the public to be vigilant to ensure that the funds would reach the affected residents — most of who have been displaced for weeks after Taal Volcano spewed ash that reached as far as Central Luzon.
As of now, Taal Volcano’s alert level was downgraded to Alert Level 2, although the volcano was spotted releasing minimal ash plumes from time to time.
“Now, the challenge is how to assure that the money released will be allocated to the people in need and to avoid more delays, or worse, unexpected corruption opportunities,” Gutierrez said.
“The problem with the government sometimes is that, if there is big money that would be released, there are also politicians trying to have a cut at the fund. So we hope that would be avoided,” he added.
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