President Rodrigo Duterte on Tuesday said he was “very happy” with how government agencies responded to the eruption of Taal Volcano.
In a situation briefing at the Batangas Sports Complex, Duterte was particularly pleased that there were no reported deaths and major injuries sustained by the affected residents.
“I am really very pleased, very happy that all agencies are here on hand and trying their best to help the community,” Duterte said.
“I am very satisfied with the response of everybody. The fact that no one was killed and there’s nobody really sick,” he added.
Duterte noted how volcanoes around the world are also erupting, stressing that Filipinos are “not alone” in experiencing this natural calamity.
He also approved the recommendations of the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) to mitigate the impact of the volcano’s eruption.
These recommendations include the total evacuation of residents in the Taal Island and high-risk areas within a 14-km radius from the volcano’s crater; the implementation of a no-human settlement policy in Taal Volcano island which is a permanent danger zone; preparation for the effect of prolonged ashfalls; an order for aircraft to avoid the Taal Volcano; and the finalization hazard sensitive land use plans for towns surrounding the volcano.
The President also assured local government officials that they are welcome to coordinate with members of his Cabinet to seek assistance from them “anytime.”
Taal Volcano started spewing ashes on Sunday which prompted the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs) to raise Alert Level 4 over Taal Volcano which means “hazardous eruption is possible within days”.
Over 8,000 families have been evacuated from Batangas and Cavite provinces, National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) Executive Director Ricardo Jalad said.
No Man’s Island
Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana recommended that Taal should be declared a “No Man’s Land” or an area that is uninhabited.
He warned if there will be another explosion that would be “more violent”, people would be in grave danger.
Duterte did not give a clear answer but said it was difficult to make projections this early.
“We will have to depend heavily on–you cannot make projections actually dito (here) unless there’s an activity there which can be seen visually or manifest itself itong fume,” Duterte said.
Stronger evacuation centers
Following reports that several houses were damaged due to earthquakes caused by Taal’s volcanic activity, Duterte called anew for the construction of more durable evacuation centers.
“Before I go, we must be able to build evacuation centers. If there is enough money in the GAA (General Appropriations Act) sa Calamity [fund]…especially in provinces that are facing the Pacific Ocean. They are the windows of the Philippines in terms of typhoons and calamities,” Duterte said.
“You build a very strong evacuation center. Wag naman as strong as the Titanic and then saying that even God cannot sink the ship because God will really destroy your evacuation center,” he said.
Duterte said the evacuation centers must be able to withstand even the strongest of earthquakes.
Inside the evacuation centers, he also suggested constructing bathrooms which separate the shower room from the toilet.
“Do not place the shower and toilet in the same…you’ll be wasting something like the human kinetic movement,” Duterte said.
“Kasi pag may naligo, hindi magamit tapos maligo ka may tumae mabaho na then you feel uncomfortable (When someone takes a bath, it can’t be used. Then when you take a bath and someone defecates, it’s going to smell bad and you feel uncomfortable),” he added.
Lorenzana said the soon-to-be-built evacuation centers can follow the model of the PHP32-million regional evacuation center funded by the Office of Civil Defense in Zarraga, Iloilo.
The government is currently constructing evacuation centers in all towns.
Duterte, meanwhile, expressed hope that these evacuation centers would be finished before his term ends in 2022.
Duterte was wearing a personal air purifier around his neck but shared that his nurse forgot to switch it on.
He said he did not want to use N95 masks to protect his face against 95 percent of airborne particles — such as those spewed by the Taal Volcano.
The President started wearing a personal air purifier in October 2019 to protect him from catching an infection from cough and colds.
After the situational briefing, Duterte led the ceremonial distribution of calamity assistance to 1,214 families taking refuge at the Batangas Provincial Sports Complex in Batangas City. (PNA)