Amid reports of evacuees insisting in going back to their homes despite a lockdown in Taal danger zones, Senator Sherwin Gatchalian on Thursday suggested that local government officials and the Philippine National Police (PNP) should arrest these “defiant” evacuees for their own safety.
In a media forum, Gatchalian said the lockdown imposed on several towns in Batangas following Sunday’s eruption of Taal Volcano is meant as a preventive measure because of the imminent danger under an Alert level 4.
“We should be very persistent na bawal sila pumunta dun. At kung mayroon mang talagang magpipilit, i-aresto. dahil yung kanilang pagpipilit ay makakadisgrasya sa kanilang sarili (that they are prohibited from going there. And if they really insist, arrest them, because their insistence will endanger their lives),” Gatchalian said.
He said that it is within the powers of the local government officials, including barangay officials, under the realm of public order and safety of the Local Government Code, as well as in the general powers of the PNP in public order and public safety.
He said evacuees who will be arrested could be taken to the barangay hall or the police station “to calm them” and to explain to them fully the risk they are taking if they go back to their homes.
Furthermore, Gatchalian said that it is not only the lives of the evacuees who are at stake when an explosive eruption or earthquake suddenly happens while they are at their homes, even if only for a few hours.
“Naintindihan natin ang gusto nilang gawin dahil ang kabuhayan nila ay naapektuhan, pero kapalit nito yung sariling buhay nila. Sinabi ng mga eksperto na delikado pa rin at pwede sila maipit doon (We understand their sentiments because their livelihoods were affected, but they are putting their lives at stake. Experts say that the situation is still serious and they could be trapped there),” he said.
“Ang nakakalungkot, kung naipit sila doon at pumasok yung ating mga rescuers at maipit din mga rescuers natin, mas maraming buhay ang mabubuwis (What would be more frustrating is that if they get trapped, and the rescuers who enter the area also get trapped, more lives would be lost),” Gatchalian stressed.
Because of this, the lawmaker urged evacuees to cooperate and heed the authorities.
“We are on Alert Level 4 so we can never be sure what will happen next. It can happen in one hour or two hours. Kaya pinakamabuti para sa mga nakatira doon ay ibigay ang kanilang kooperasyon dahil ito naman ay para sa kanilang kaligtasan (So the best thing for the residents there is to give their cooperation because it is for their own safety),” Gatchalian said. (PNA)