BATANGAS CITY, Philippines – The provincial government of Batangas on Monday, January 13, declared state of calamity in the province due to the eruption of Taal Volcano.
The declaration was adopted in a special session chaired by Batangas Vice Governor Mark Leviste based on the recommendation of the Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (PDRRMC) and an endorsement letter from its chairperson, Batangas Governor Hermilando Mandanas.
“Whereas, by authority vested to the Sangguniang Panlalawigan, under NDRRMC Memorandum Order No, 60, series of 2019, which states that when two or more municipalities or cities are affected by a disaster the Sangguniang Panlalawigan, upon the recommendation of the Provincial DRRM Council, may declare the entire province under a State of Calamity,” the resolution read.
Earlier on Monday, the affected towns of Agoncillo and Balete declared a state of calamity in their respective areas. Other towns in the vicinity were also expected to issue their declaration within the day.
Upon the declaration of a state of calamity, the Quick Response Fund (QRF) from the local DRRM Fund will be used for relief, rehabilitation, reconstruction, recovery and other works or services to mitigate the effects of the disaster and stabilize the situation in the disaster stricken areas.
Leviste said the PDRRMC has a fund amounting to P200 million and the provincial government has another P100 million for augmentation.
“We will be able to use the funds faster and more efficiently...because it does not have to pass through the usual bureaucratic process," the Vice Governor said in a mix of Filipino and English.
In a press briefing on Monday morning, Mandanas reiterated the readiness of the provincial government to carry out disaster and relief operations in the province.
“We have long prepared for this. All of this is coordinated and supported by the budget. We have P4 billion in addition to our regular budget this year just awaiting approval from the Department of Budget and Management (DBM),” he said in a mix of Filipino and English.
Mandanas also said the provincial government will continue to reach out for any kind of assistance not just from the national government but from nongovernment organizations and other countries as well.
“Tuloy-tuloy ang pagtanggap at paghingi rin ng tulong dahil hindi sapat kapag may ganitong sakuna. Ito ay suliranin hindi ng mga taga-Batangas lamang ngunit ng lahat (We continue to accept and ask for help because we don't enough when it comes to this disaster. This is everyone's problem, not just the problem of the people of Batangas),” the governor added.
As of 8 am on Monday, over 3,000 families composed of 16,780 individuals were moved to different evacuation areas around the province. Power interruptions were reported in the towns of Malvar, Laurel, Talisay, Agoncillo, and Tanauan City.
The Taal Volcano remained under Alert Level 4 early Monday morning, as it spewed lava fountains amid the threat of a hazardous eruption.