Gov’t assures Taal evacuees of help
LUCENA CITY, Quezon, Philippines — Officials of Laurel and Agoncillo towns in Batangas province are appealing for donations of food, water, clothes, blankets and hygiene kits for people still in evacuation centers five days after the eruption of Taal Volcano on Saturday.
Laurel Mayor Joan Amo, in a telephone interview on Wednesday, said the evacuees from three villages in her town urgently need food.
Jun France de Villa, chief of the Agoncillo municipal disaster risk reduction and management office, in a text message, said the evacuees in their town need blankets, hygiene kits, diapers for infants and adults, medicines and vitamins.
A report from the provincial disaster risk reduction and management office said that as of Wednesday morning, the provincial social welfare office had already sent 636 food packs to Laurel and another 619 packs to Agoncillo. Each pack contains 5 kilos of rice, eight assorted canned goods and instant coffee sachets.
Cabinet members on Tuesday assured President Rodrigo Duterte that their departments were assisting all residents affected by the eruption of Taal Volcano.
Speaking during a televised meeting with Cabinet officials, Duterte said he wanted all evacuees to be comfortable in the evacuation centers. He said the evacuation centers should have clean bathrooms and toilets.
He said he would use whatever funds remaining in his office at the end of his term to build comfortable evacuation centers.
Social Welfare Secretary Rolando Bautista, in his report to the President, said the agency had about P1.54 billion at its disposal to provide food and other forms of assistance to affected residents.
Bautista said the Department of Social Welfare and Development had prepositioned food and nonfood items amounting close to P80 million at the General Mariano Alvarez warehouse in Cavite and Batangas Sports Complex for the immediate need of the residents affected by the eruption.
Agoncillo’s two villages, Banyaga and Bilibinwang, and Laurel’s three barangays of Boso-Boso, Gulod and the eastern section of Bugaan East, are within the volcano’s 7-kilometer danger zone.
With the volcano still under alert level 3, no resident will be allowed to stay in high-risk areas.
But the local governments of Agoncillo and Laurel provided window hours that would allow evacuees to return to their villages to check on their property, get some belongings, feed their animals and tend to their fish cages.
On Tuesday, Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs) Director Renato Solidum said that alert level 3 may be lowered to alert level 2 if the volcano would calm down in the next two weeks.
But Solidum warned that Phivolcs would be compelled to raise alert level 4 if the magma from 5 km below would rise to the surface. “It may rise, like what happened in January 2020, and that brought along a lot of gas. And that is what will trigger stronger explosions,” he said.
As of Wednesday noon, Laurel recorded 491 families inside evacuation centers and another 550 families living with friends and relatives. The provincial government reported that Agoncillo had 699 families in evacuation centers and 290 families staying elsewhere.