Taal Island families still in evac centers


    IT has been more than a year since the last eruption of Taal Volcano but its victims have yet to get the assistance that government had promised, with over 620 families still housed in four evacuation centers until now.

    These concerns were raised by the evacuees and local officials during a public consultation led by Quezon City Rep. Alfred Vargas and the House committee on social services in Talisay, Batangas last month which discussed plausible solutions for the short, medium and long-term needs of the affected families.

    This prompted Vargas to file House Resolution No. 1591 calling on the national government to fast-track the financial aid disbursements and livelihood and housing projects for the victims.

    Vargas said he would continue meeting with stakeholders until all intended beneficiaries receive aid, reminding the agencies that President Duterte, himself, had pledged to extend all forms of assistance to affected residents.

    “We call on the National Housing Authority (NHA), the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) and other government agencies to speed up the grant of aid to the victims of the Taal Volcano eruption. Until now, they are worried of the lack of security of their situation,” Vargas, chair of the House Social Services Committee, said.

    Vargas said renewed volcanic activities in Taal recently which has prompted authorities to again evacuate residents from the island underscores the urgency of government action.

    “They are afraid again but the promises of these government agencies from a year ago have yet to be delivered. They’ve been waiting more than a year without security. This should not be happening,” he said.

    In his resolution, the administration lawmaker reminded government agencies that it is their duty “to ensure with urgency that the people’s resilience are complemented with sustainable solutions that would help them recover and build back better from any disaster or calamity.”

    “Community representatives from at least four evacuation sites have reported that food and health security considerations within the designated relocation sites are the short- and medium-term concerns for the affected families, while sustainable livelihood and permanent housing are their primary and long-term concern,” he said.

    During the consultation, the NHA reported that it has an earlier approved budget for 160 housing units in Talisay. A second phase has also been approved with a budget of P259 million which could generate 448 housing units.

    The Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) said it has put on standby P2.6 million worth of family food packs, P8.5 million worth of other non-food relief supplies and P8.3 million worth of funds that can be tapped and distributed to assist those affected by the recent activities of Taal Volcano. – With Jocelyn Montemayor