Duterte checks out Taal Volcano

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    PRESIDENT Duterte yesterday conducted an aerial viewing of Taal Volcano in Batangas and surrounding areas while flying back to Manila from Davao City.

    The President, accompanied by Sen. Christopher Go, landed at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport which resumed operations yesterday afternoon or shortly after the President’s arrival.

    Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said he would not recommend to the President a visit of Taal evacuees because of the presence of ash which is a health risk.

    Chief Presidential Legal Counsel Salvador Panelo, concurrent presidential spokesman, said the appropriate agencies are already doing what they need to do in times of calamity as directed by the President.

    Communications Secretary Martin Andanar said the President has instructed government agencies to ensure that those affected by the eruption will be given assistance. He has also ordered the Department of Health to provide face masks to affected residents.

    House leaders used the Taal eruption to shore up support for the proposed creation of a Department of Disaster Resilience, which remains pending at the committee level.

    Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano said the speed and magnitude of the problem caused by volcanic ashfall demonstrated the urgency of marshalling a comprehensive response during calamities and national emergencies.

    “The occurrence of these unpredictable natural disasters makes it more urgent for Congress to pass the measure creating the Department of Disaster Resilience (DDR) which will be in charge of providing emergency response to natural disasters,” Cayetano said.

    The Speaker issued a directive Sunday evening ordering the suspension of all calendared hearings in the House due to safety concerns.

    He also called on House members, especially those from affected areas of the ashfall, to assess the damage and coordinate with local government officials as well as first responders to ensure delivery of relief to evacuees and stranded residents.

    “On behalf of the House of Representatives, we are assuring our kababayans who are directly affected by this natural calamity that we are ready to provide our support and assistance,” Cayetano said. – With Peter Tabingo