MANILA, Philippines — Senator Bong Go said that President Rodrigo Duterte has instructed on Saturday concerned government agencies to fully support the recovery efforts of local government units (LGUs) affected by the Taal volcanic eruption.
As this developed, Senator Francis Pangilinan said the government must issue more regular Taal Volcano updates over the twice-a-day situation report that the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs) releases.
“Considering that Phivolcs raised alert level 2 to 4 in just two hours last Sunday, we issue an urgent appeal to government to issue bulletins every 1 or two hours to prevent panic and keep the public informed and more aware,” said Pangilinan, who was in the area to distribute relief goods and Portalets from his office and the UP community to affected residents.
Phivolcs said nearly 700 volcanic earthquakes have been recorded since Taal volcano emitted plumes of steam and ash six days ago on January 12, indicating continuous magmatic intrusion beneath the volcano.
The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) initially reported that about half a million people are within the radius of the 14-kilometer danger zone.
Citing the possible health hazards brought by the ash fall in affected areas, the senator also called on the DOH to prioritize the cleaning of health centers and evacuation centers to ensure the safety of residents and evacuees.
Health Secretary Francisco Duque III said he has already informed the Regional Director of DOH CALABARZON Ed Janairo to coordinate with the LGUs concerned as regards to cleaning and disinfecting of Barangay Health Stations and Rural Health Units in the area.
DOH will be providing the needed technical and logistical assistance to health stations and health units to ensure that affected Filipinos will have unhampered access to primary health care and assistance.
Meanwhile, the senator also mentioned that some private individuals have committed to donate horses as a form of livelihood assistance, especially for residents in Tagaytay City who lost horses they use to earn a living due to the effects of the eruption.
He also encouraged those who would like to donate more horses to reach out and help saying, “ibigay natin dun sa mga beneficiaries po na talagang nabiktima rin po ang kanilang kabayo, kawawa din po sila dahil nawalan sila ng hanapbuhay.”
In view of the consecutive natural disasters which have ravaged the country the past few months, Go also said that it is high time that the government establishes evacuation centers in all cities, provinces, and municipalities which will cater to the basic needs of the victims.
Go filed recently a bill providing for mandatory evacuation centers in all cities, provinces and municipalities nationwide.
Senate Bill (SB) No. 1228 or “An Act Establishing a Mandatory Evacuation Center in all Cities, Provinces and Municipalities, Appropriating Funds Therefor,” provides for the establishment of an evacuation center in every city, province and municipality throughout the country.
The bill also provides for the minimum requirements for every evacuation center, such as its location, amenities and accessibility, operation and management, among others.
As for his calls for the establishment of a Department of Disaster Resilience, Go said that his proposed Senate Bill (SB) 205 or the “Department of Disaster Resilience (DDR) Act” is now being deliberated in the Senate committee level.
Go also said that they will study various proposals on what is the best approach in creating an authority solely in charge of disaster resilience. “Kakausapin ko rin po ‘yung mga kapwa ko senador para mapag-aralan mabuti, kasi mayroon pong ibang suggestion na i-under na lang po sa Office of the President,” he said.
The Senator acknowledged the fact that the government as a whole can do more to educate and inform the public when it comes to Disaster Preparedness. This, he said, is also one of the reasons why he is pushing for the creation of DDR.
The proposed DDR will institutionalize the presence of an empowered government entity with full authority to handle disaster preparedness, mitigation, recovery and resiliency efforts.
Go emphasized that although these natural occurrences cannot be predicted, Filipinos should be more prepared to handle these situations since the country is geographically and historically prone to such calamities or disasters. (STACY ANG/IAMIGO/Currentph.com)