Malacañang said there is nothing wrong with seeking help from international organizations for the rehabilitation of areas in Southern Tagalog affected by Taal Volcano’s eruption, Malacañang said.
“Wala naman masama din humingi ng tulong para mas lalong mahusay yung pagtulong sa mga nangangailangan (There’s nothing wrong with asking help so that we can provide better assistance to those in need),” Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said in a regular Palace briefing.
He said he has no word in which countries have expressed the desire to provide assistance to Taal-affected areas.
Last month, the US committed to provide USD100,000 or about PHP5.1 million in relief assistance to the communities affected by Taal’s unrest.
The aid was announced by US Ambassador to the Philippines Sung Kim himself during a visit at two evacuation centers in Nasugbu and Calatagan in Batangas
President Rodrigo Duterte signed proclamation no. 906 on February 21 placing Region 4-A or Calabarzon (Cavite, Laguna, Batangas, Rizal, and Quezon) under a state of calamity to “hasten the rescue, relief, and rehabilitation efforts of the government and the private sector, including any international humanitarian assistance.”
Panelo said despite the volcano’s eruption happening over a month ago, it was not too late to declare a state of calamity as rehabilitation will have to take place over a long period of time.
“They can never be too late in any declaration with respect to calamities. Pag may calamity siyempre matagal ‘yan (When there’s a calamity, it will take time to recover),” he said.
On January 20, Duterte urged Congress to pass a PHP30-billion supplemental budget to build more evacuation centers in Southern Tagalog provinces devastated by the eruption of Taal Volcano.
He made the call after the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) sought additional funding from the Congress and Office of the President to augment the nearly “depleted” calamity funds at the local level.
Prior to Duterte’s call, National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) chairperson and Defense chief Delfin Lorenzana said that there is still no need to seek aid from foreign countries since there are still enough government resources.
He, however, said the government remains open to foreign aid by countries willing to provide it.
“Let’s see in the coming days kung kinakailangan natin humingi ng aid from the foreign countries (if we need to seek aid from the foreign countries),” he added.
More than 400,000 residents from areas near Taal Volcano have been forced to evacuate when Taal Volcano began spewing clouds of thick ash and steam on January 12.
Taal Volcano’s alert status is currently on alert level 2. The volcano’s alert status may be further downgraded to alert level 1 once a continuous decrease is noted within two weeks, the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs) said.
However, the agency warned that steam-driven explosions, volcanic earthquakes, ashfall, and lethal volcanic gas expulsions can still occur and threaten areas within the Taal Volcano Island and nearby lakeshores.
To date, residents are prohibited from entering within a 7-km radius from Taal Volcano’s main crater. (PNA)