MANILA, Philippines – Batangas Governor Hermilando Mandanas said around 22,000 houses may have been damaged due to the eruption of Taal Volcano, and residents are advised not to return.
The governor gave updates and issued announcements after Taal Volcano was downgraded to Alert Level 3 on Sunday, January 26, following two weeks of being under Alert Level 4.
“Sa ngayon, ito’y kukumpirmahin pa ha, 22,000 bahay, hindi na mababalikan…. Hindi lang sira…hindi na dapat balikan pa,” said Mandanas in a briefing on Sunday afternoon, adding that these homes are in Taal Volcano Island and nearby barangays.
(For now, this has yet to be confirmed, but around 22,000 houses cannot be returned to anymore. They’re not only damaged, they shouldn’t be returned to anymore.)
A rapid damage assessment will be conducted to verify the number of totally and partially damaged houses, Batangas provincial disaster risk reduction and management head Lito Castro later said in the briefing.
According to Mandanas, the provincial government is planning the resettlement of affected residents. (LOOK: Eyed relocation site for Taal evacuees in Ibaan, Batangas)
“Hindi pa confirmed kung ilan talaga, but initial estimate, 22,000 new houses for resettlement. Meron na tayong resettlement area, pero hindi pa tapos ang mga kalsada, kuryente, tubig. Kaya sila, bago matapos ay dalawang taon. Dahil ang ating tunay na resettlement areas, kailangan din, may hanapbuhay,” he said.
(It’s not yet confirmed, but the initial estimate is that there will be 22,000 new houses for resettlement. We already have a resettlement area, but its roads, electricity, and water facilities are not yet finished. Maybe it would take two years, because effective resettlement areas need to foster livelihood.)
More assistance, funding
They also plan to give assistance to affected residents and buy their livestock.
“‘Yung mga nag-aalaga ng hayop, baka walang maipakain, bibilhin lahat ng lalawigan sa ating pondo at may tulong pa na pinangako ang Department of Agriculture. ‘Yung mga nasa isla, bibilhin din, patay o buhay,” Mandanas added.
(To those taking care of animals, maybe they can’t feed them anymore, we’ll buy their animals using the province’s funds, besides the help promised by the Department of Agriculture. Those from the volcano island, we’ll also buy their livestock, dead or alive.)
The provincial veterinarian will be in charge of buying livestock, said Castro.
Mandanas said Batangas will increase its calamity fund to over P300 million from P60 million. Its regular fund will also be increased by P2 billion to cover short-term expenses for 6 months.
These are besides what the national government would provide, the governor said.
He also earlier asked China for a grant to boost recovery and rehabilitation efforts in Batangas.
Areas on lockdown
Mandanas reiterated that the towns of Agoncillo and Laurel remain on lockdown. But the governor is allowing mayors and barangay officials to provide window hours for residents to briefly come back.
While the lockdown has been lifted in other towns, residents should still be ready to evacuate again within one hour in case the Taal unrest worsens.
Classes in Batangas for preschool, elementary, and high school students remain suspended until further notice, said Mandanas, because many schools are being used as evacuation centers.
But the evacuees will eventually be transferred to other evacuation centers so that classes can resume.
In addition, Batangas will set up assistance centers in barangays and town centers. – Rappler.com