Philippine govt ready for health concerns of Taal evacuees

Residents in their bankas are dwarfed by the magnitude of the vertical eruption of the Taal volcano as they try to go to their homes to rescue some animals and belongings they left behind aat Barangay Bignay, Batangas on Monday. The STAR/Miguel de Guzman. Sketched by the Pan Pacific Agency.

MANILA, Jan 19, 2020, The Manila Times. The National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) on Saturday assured the public that the government was prepared to take any action to address health concerns of families affected by the eruption of Taal Volcano, The Manila Times reported.

NDRRMC spokesman Mark Timbal said all concerned government agencies were giving support to all affected families at the evacuation centers, particularly for their health.

“Pangangalagaan po ng ating pamahalaan ang ating mga evacuees while they are within our care (Our government is taking care of our evacuees while they are within our care),” Timbal told The Manila Times in a text message.

He assured the public that all who contracted diseases would be immediately reported to camp managers.

“Kung meron pong may mga may karamdaman daglian po nating iulat ito sa ating camp managers para maaksyunan ng health officers natin (If they contract a disease, we will immediately report it to the camp managers so that health officers will take action on it),” Timbal said.

So far, no disease outbreak in the evacuation centers has been monitored or reported, he added.

Timbal said the Department of Health (DoH) continued to monitor all evacuation centers to prevent and address health concerns, adding that the department has deployed additional emergency medical teams to check the conditions of the evacuees.

“The needs of the evacuees were continuously provided,” Timbal added.

The NDRRMC, according to Timbal, also keeps on coordinating with the private groups and organizations for possible assistance..

Based on the latest NDRRMC report, 22,472 families or 96,061 persons were affected by the Taal eruption.

Meanwhile, 16,174 families or 70,413 persons were accommodated in 300 evacuation centers.

A total of P17, 227, 950 in assistance was provided by the DoH, Department of Social Welfare and Development and local government units (LGUs).

Alert Level 4 is still raised over Taal Volcano and a state of calamity has been declared in Batangas and Cavite.

The volcano spouted 600-meter high of ash plumes on Saturday, dispersing smoke on its northern portions, the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs)said.

“(This is an explosion through the vent. which is on the northern flank of the volcano. This means that eruption may occur without warning in that place),” Phivolcs Director Renato Solidum Jr. said in a news briefing on Saturday.

Taal emitted lower amounts of sulfur dioxide ton Saturday compared to previous days with an average of 360 tons per day.

In its 8 a.m. bulletin, Phivolcs said Taal was “characterized by steady steam emission and infrequent weak explosions.”

The Philippine Seismic Network has recorded a total of 666 volcanic earthquakes since Sunday.

“Such intense seismic activity likely signifies continuous magmatic intrusion beneath the Taal edifice, which may lead to further eruptive activity,” it said.

Phivolcs reiterated total evacuation of Taal Volcano island and high-risk areas as identified in hazard maps within the 14-km radius from Taal main crater and along the Pansipit River Valley where fissuring was observed.

Authorities advised residents around Taal Volcano to guard against effects of heavy and prolonged ashfalls.

President Rodrigo Duterte is expected to visit again on Monday other affected areas in Batangas, his spokesman Salvador Panelo said on Friday.

Panelo added that Duterte’s visit was meant to determine whether there was a need to come up with additional contingency measures for evacuees who were forced to flee their homes.

Full support

Sen. Christopher Lawrence “Bong” Go said the President had instructed concerned government agencies to fully support recovery efforts of local government units (LGUs) affected by the volcanic eruption.

He added that Duterte ordered the DoH to ensure the health of every Filipino, while he instructed the Department of Public Works and Highways “to immediately clear the roads of all the barriers and dirt and restore damaged infrastructures.”

“And the President’s order to the Department of Energy is to restore the power (supply) that was cut. And also the communication has to be restored immediately,” Go said in a statement.

“And to DILG (Department of Interior and Local Government), for Secretary (Eduardo) Año, and to the Department of National Defense, they are the lead role for our disaster (relief) because the Office of the Civil Defense is under them,” he added.

Citing possible health hazards brought by the ash fall in affected areas, Go called on the DoH to make a priority the cleaning of health centers and evacuation centers to ensure the safety of residents and evacuees.

The senator filed recently a bill providing for mandatory evacuation centers in all cities, provinces and municipalities nationwide and also called for the passage the “Department of Disaster Resilience (DDR) Act,” which is now being deliberated in the Senate committee level.

In the House of Representatives, Deputy Speaker Michael Romero suggested to Duterte’s advisers the creation of an Inter-Agency Taal Rehabilitation, Recovery and Livelihood Program, while the proposed DDR Act is not yet passed into law.

Mandatory SIM registration

Meanwhile, Sen. Sherwin Gatchalian cited the need for mandatory registration of prepaid subscriber identity module (SIM) cards as a way of running after perpetrators of hoax messages on mobile phones in relation to the Taal disaster.

Gatchalian noted how Phivolcs repeatedly flagged the spread of false and unverified information, which causes public panic and confusion.

He cited Republic Act 10639 or the Free Mobile Disaster Alerts Act, which imposes a fine of up to P10,000 and imprisonment of up to six months for persons who spread false or misleading data or information in times of calamities.

Fellow senator Jose Edgardo Angara urged the Department of Labor and Employment (DoLE) to provide emergency employment to affected workers by utilizing funds under its budget for assistance to workers in times of calamities and disaster.

Angara, chairman of the Senate finance committee that went over the 2020 General Appropriations Act, pointed to P120 million that it can tap to provide assistance to the displaced workers, particularly those who reside in the areas within the vicinity of Taal in Cavite and Batangas.

Under the 2020 national budget, the DoLE has P112.62 million for its Adjustment Measures Program and P6.8 million for its Tulong Panghanapbuhay sa Ating Disadvantaged/Displaced Workers or Tupad.

Tupad is a community-based package of assistance that provides emergency employment for displaced workers, underemployed and seasonal workers, for a minimum period of 10 days, but not to exceed a maximum of 30 days, depending on the nature of work to be performed.

Animal rescue

To assist in rescuing animals trapped in danger zones, the Makati City government will deploy an impounding vehicle to Batangas

In a statement on Saturday, Makati City Mayor Mar-len Abigail Binay said the impounding vehicle will be deployed to Bauan, Batangas on Sunday, together with some personnel of the city Veterinary Services Department (VSD).

She added that the VSD personnel would turn over dog and cat food, vitamins, antibiotics and antiseptic solutions to the Batangas Provincial Veterinary Office.

Dr. Ma. Katherina Mangahas, Makati VSD chief, said the impounding vehicle has eight cages that can accommodate up to 24 medium-sized dogs.

Danilo Lim, Metro Manila Development Authority (MMDA) chairman and concurrent Metro Manila Disaster Risk Reduction Management Council head, has lauded efforts of Metro Manila LGUs in helping Batangas province as the number of evacuees continues to rise.

Serving as focal person for Disaster Risk Reduction and Management, Michael Salalima, head of the MMDA Public Safety Office, said they were continuously coordinating with the Batangas Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office on the relief efforts.

Other Metro Manila LGUs that sent aid to the Taal-hit areas were Manila, San Juan City, Parañaque City, Muntinlupa City, Taguig City, Quezon City, Mandaluyong City and Caloocan City.

The National Capital Region Police Office will donate a total of a projected P3.5 million from the policemen’s combat pay for the evacuees.

The Philippine National Police has collected a total of P2.5 million for civilian victims from all its personnel nationwide.


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