SPEAKER Alan Peter Cayetano yesterday directed the House committee on disaster management to coordinate with other committees to develop a comprehensive rehabilitation plan to help areas in Batangas, Cavite and Laguna that were severely affected by Taal Volcano’s activities.
“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,” he said.
Cayetano said a comprehensive rehabilitation plan will entail funding, logistical, and operational support from various national government agencies while House committees, government agencies, and urban planning experts “can work on this plan to ensure that it is disaster-resilient and sustainable.”
He also said there is a need to develop 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.”
The Philippine Institute Volcanology and Seismology earlier noted Taal’s eruption history. It said the eruption in 1911 lasted for just three days while that in 1754 lasted for seven months.
The 2020 General appropriations Act allocates a total P16 billion for the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Fund. Out of this amount, there is P3.3-billion budget for aid and relief and rehabilitation services to communities affected by calamities, and P4.2 billion for repair and reconstruction of permanent structures including capital expenditures.
The Department of Public Works and Highways said it is assessing roads and bridges following the series of tremors triggered by Taal’s activities.
Based on a January 14 partial report of the DPWH Batangas first district engineering office, all roads remain passable but major cracks appeared along Palico-Balayan-Batangas Road, K0121+520 and K0121+630, in Barangay Sinisian East, and at the K0127+430 section in Barangay Palanas, both in Lemery, Batangas.
The Department of Agriculture said initial damage to agriculture is at P577.6 million.
Affected commodities are rice, corn, coffee, cacao, banana, and high-value crops.
The DA said some P21.7 million worth of crop and livestock aid will be distributed to 17 local government units in Batangas.
The Bureau of Animal Industry said it has drugs for affected livestock and trucks for animal rescue and evacuation.
The Bureau of Plant Industry said it has some 5,000 coffee mother plants and 1,000 cacao seedlings ready for distribution.
Manila International Airport Authority (MIAA) terminals are back to normal operations which were suspended Sunday and partially resumed on Monday.
For telecom operations, Smart Communications Inc. and Globe Telecom Inc. said their operations are back to normal except in areas with no power supply.
Smart has set up free calls and charging stations and tents at the Batangas Sports Complex in Batangas City and Rafael M. Lojo Memorial School in Banaybanay, Lipa City.
The Department of Transportation said ports and railways are under normal operations.
The Department of Health said six persons have been brought to the Ospital ng Tagaytay after complaining of difficulty in breathing after Taal spewed ash on Sunday.
“These are illnesses were brought about by exposure to heavy ashfall,” said Health Secretary Francisco Duque III.
DOH-Calabarzon region director Eduardo Janairo said the symptoms exhibited by the patients show they are suffering from respiratory ailments.
The DOH has raised the “code blue” alert in the Calabarzon, requiring half of all hospital personnel in the region to report for duty to provide medical assistance and services.
DOH hospitals in Metro Manila have been placed under “code white” alert which means all hospital personnel are on standby for possible deployment.
The DOH has also deployed personnel to 139 evacuation centers.
The Metropolitan Manila Development Authority, the Philippine Red Cross, and the PHAPCares Foundation which is the corporate social responsibility arm of the Pharmaceutical and Healthcare Association of the Philippines have sent thousands of face masks and goggles to Batangas for responders and effected residents.
The MMDA and PHAP, which sent some 16,500 face masks and goggles, also sent medicines for respiratory illnesses and drinking water to evacuation centers in Sto. Tomas and Padre Garcia.
The MMDA on Monday sent a 30-man team to Batangas to help the affected residents, together with three military trucks, three ambulances, two fire trucks, 10 portable water purifiers, self-contained breathing apparatus, and compressors, among others.
The PRC distributed 1,800 N95 masks and plans to add 20,000 more in the coming days, said Sen. Richard J. Gordon, chairman and CEO of the agency.
The Muntinlupa government said it will donate P3 million cash and relief goods to Talisay, Laurel and Agoncillo towns in Batangas. The city government deployed a group of health workers and emergency services staff to Talisay.
Taguig City also deployed a rescue team and sent donations of bottled water, N95 masks, hygiene kits, and family food packs.
The Manila city government dispatched two fire trucks, three ambulances, a mobile hospital, a utility vehicle, and 23 personnel to Tagaytay City.
The Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines appealed to the clergy and the faithful to offer prayers to the residents and responders, and send help to the affected communities.
CBCP president Archbishop Romulo Valles also called for “acts of charity and solidarity through our donations of material goods such as food and probably shelter and clothing.”
He said the Church can help in gathering donations for the victims of by conducting second collections during Masses.
“A possibility would be archdioceses and dioceses do a second collection in Masses, and give them to the most affected local Churches,” said Valles.
Cavite Rep. Elpidio Barzaga Jr. has filed House Resolution No. 643 urging the House to find out if Phivolcs has conducted a “comprehensive monitoring” of the volcanic activities. He said the hearing will find out if Phivolcs has the technical expertise to “to make a timely forecast of the Taal Volcano eruption” to be able to warn the public.
“As early as 11 a.m. of 12 January 2020, when the Taal Volcano is already manifesting an increase in the volcanic activity, there are no news bulletins or SMS alerts from the Phivolcs and other concerned government agencies,” he said. – With Noel Talacay, Jed Macapagal, Myla Iglesias, and Gerard Naval