By Connie Calipay
LEGAZPI CITY – President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. assured the provincial government of Albay and affected local government units (LGUs) of quick help from different national government agencies amid the continuing unrest of Mayon Volcano which is currently under Alert Level 3.
Marcos visited the province on Wednesday night to personally assess ongoing disaster operations amid Mayon Volcano’s increasing activity that has sent 17,941 people to various evacuation centers in six towns and two cities.
“We will have to make up the difference for the continuing in terms of food, non-food items and all others that we have to make,” Marcos said after Albay Governor Edcel Grex Lagman said that the PHP30 million quick response fund (QRF) of the province that can only last for 14 days Mayon response.
Marcos said government agencies must prepare to cover 90 days of relief assistance to evacuees, which is the estimated maximum period of unrest of the volcano, to unburden a load of local government units (LGUs) responding to the disaster.
“Let us be prepared to take as much of the load as soon as possible off of the local government units so that they would have reserve funds; we’ll never know, there might be a tropical cyclone. They need reserve funds. We will not use up all of their quick response funds,” Marcos said at the Albay Astrodome Mayon briefing.
“We we should use as a working number a minimum of 45 days. The 45 days to 90 days come from both the science of DOST and the experience of the locals. That’s it, 45 to 90 days. That’s the working number we would use,” he added.
Before the briefing in Albay, the President visited the Guinobatan Community College evacuation center to assess the condition of the affected families being housed there and also led the distribution of government assistance.
In the same Albay Astrodome briefing, Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) Secretary Rex Gatchalian assured their agency is ready to assist those affected by the calamity.
“Given you said that we should prepare for 90 days cycle, it will require 153,000 family food packs (FFPs) of which it is already on the ground as well. It’s in the store room in the DSWD field office 5, so ready to supply 153,000 FFPs,” Gatchalian said.
He also said DSWD is already preparing the assistance package requested by the provincial government of Albay for the evacuees. “The assistance package the provincial government has requested has already been processed. I spoke to the Governor, we agreed that they will furnish us with the list of beneficiaries and the timing as to when to start doing the financial assistance. So this would lessen the burden of the provincial government and the local government units in their cash requirement for the evacuees,” Gatchalian said.
Department of Agriculture Bicol regional executive director Rodel Tornilla has also disclosed they have set up 30 livestock evacuation centers as temporary shelters for animals. “We are providing drugs and biologics for our animals to ensure our farm animals in evacuation centers are in good conditions,” he assured.
Tornilla said DA Bicol will establish Kadiwa ng Pangulo in areas near the evacuation centers.”So they (evacuees) can buy affordable basic goods and commodities.”
“We are also in the process of providing alternative livelihood for our evacuees like rabbit breading and vegetable planting in different evacuees centers to ensure that even though they are not in their farms there still have a livelihood. We are monitoring the situation in different areas,” he added.
He said the DA-Bicol has a ready standby fund of P35.5 million for immediate rehabilitation of affected farmers once the situation gets back to normal.
The Department of Labor and Employment in Bicol (DOLE-5) has likewise announced its P49.5 million initial assistance through emergency employment for the evacuees under their Tulong Panghanapbuhay sa Ating Disadvantaged / Displaced Workers (TUPAD) program.
“They will be engaged in TUPAD for the longest period of 30 days. The work program they will do are maintenance, community gardening, cleanliness and housekeeping of evacuation sites and also in food preparation. They will work with compensation for 30 days,” DOLE-5 regional director Zenaida Angara-Campita said.
She said one family member will be engaged in TUPAD for a compensation of P10,950 for 30 days of work.
The Department of Health in Bicol (DOH-5), for its part, “has established health stations in evacuation centers to ensure the safety of evacuees. DSOH-5 has also provided assorted medicines, facemasks and related items in evacuation centers, alongside with its intensified health surveillance system. We have 97 consultations in different evacuation centers, and conduct water quality monitoring of water sources,” DOH-5 regional director Ernie Vera said.
Vera said P3.4 million worth of assorted basic medicines, jerrycans, hygiene kits and facemasks were delivered to the provincial health office to help local government units in need of them.
“We have requested an additional P2.5 million from our central office as augmentation in preparation for possible elevation of Mayon’s alert level,” Vera said.
Department of Education (DepEd) Bicol regional director Gilbert Sadsad said they have devised a scheme on how the children evacuees can continue their learning exercises.
After the briefing, the President awarded the initial P49.5 million DOLE’s assistance to the different LGU executives that will be used for the TUPAD program.
The severely affected towns and cities of Albay include Daraga with 768 beneficiaries (P8.8 million); Camalig with 929 beneficiaries (P10.7 million); Guinobatan with 812 beneficiaries (P9.3 million); Tabaco City with 441 beneficiaries (P5 million); Malilipot with 900 beneficiaries (P10.4 million); Sto. Domingo with 379 beneficiaries (P4.3 million); and Ligao City with 57 beneficiaries (P658,000).
Data from the Office of Civil Defense (OCD) in Bicol indicate that DSWD, Philippine Red Cross, Ang Probinsyano Partylist, local government units (LGUs), private groups and non-government organizations have so far provided a total of P29.2 million worth of assistance to the evacuees.
The OCD said they have also provided both food and non-food items, and water, sanitation and health (WASH) equipment to Albay. The assistance include 3,200 sacks of rice, 320 rolls of sakoline, 1,101 hygiene kits, 424 OCD family packs and one water filtration vehicle to be deployed by the provincial government to affected localities.
The OCD has also reported there are a total of 4,400 families or 15,676 individuals displaced by the disaster, mostly from Albay’s seven out of 18 municipalities and cities — Camalig, Ligao City, Guinobatan, Santo Domingo, Daraga, Malilipot, and Tabaco City.
Of the total number of displaced families and individuals, 4,215 families or 15,017 persons have sought shelter in 22 evacuation centers, while 185 families or 659 persons are temporarily residing elsewhere, according to OCD. (PNA)