Cavite lawmaker wants House probe into gov’t response to Taal eruption

MANILA, Philippines – Cavite 4th District Representative Elpidio Barzaga Jr called on the House of Representatives to investigate how the government responded to the eruption of Taal Volcano, citing an alleged “lack” of warnings issued to the public ahead of the calamity.

The lawmaker from Cavite – one of the hardest hit provinces by the eruption – filed House Resolution (HR) No. 643 on Monday, January 13, and sent reporters a copy on Tuesday, January 14. 

Barzaga argued there were were “no news bulletins or SMS alerts” from the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs) and other government agencies when Taal stared showing signs of volcanic activity on Sunday, January 12. 

“To be sure, due to lack of information, in the afternoon of the same day, while Taal Volcano is already manifesting increased volcanic activity, people still travelled towards it, while those who were already near Taal Volcano were shocked to see the smoke spewking from it and had to immediately flee under the dangers of ashfall,” Barzaga said.  

He acknowledged the challenges faced by Phivolcs, but also said there should still be an investigation of the agency to determine if it has the technical expertise to “make a timely forecast of the Taal Volcano eruption.”

Barzaga also said there was an “imperative need” to determine the necessary improvements in the responses of the Philippine National Police, Department of Social Welfare and Development, National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council, and local governments units to “reduce the risk of these natural disasters in order to prevent loss of life and property.” 

Barzaga also wanted to investigate if it was still safe for residents to live on the island where Taal Volcano was located. (READ: In the ghost town of Taal, dozens of evacuees wait in fear)

“There should also be an investigation on the permanent settlement in Taal Volcano island when it has already been categorized as a permanent danger zone posing a danger to themselves and the rescue workers who also had to risk their own lives to move them,” said the congressman. 

In the same resolution, Barzaga said appropriate charges should be filed against “unscrupulous persons” who jacked up prices of face masks, food, and other supplies as the eruption was going on.

Taal Volcano continued to spew more lava and ash plumes over the past 24 hours. The volcano remains under Alert Level 4, which means a "hazardous" eruption is "imminent" or may occur "within days to hours.”

Batangas has declared a state of calamity in the province, with more than 24,000 evacuees fleeing their homes.

The ashfall from Taal has already reached parts of Calabarzon, Metro Manila, and Central Luzon.

Read a full copy of HR 643 below:
https://www.scribd.com/embeds/442842299/content?start_page=1&view_mode=scroll&access_key=key-inr9LTzZnDrR67VBWZE6&show_recommendations=true " data-auto-height="false" data-aspect-ratio="0.75" scrolling="no" id="doc_32552" width="100%" height="600" frameborder="0">

– Rappler.com

Mara Cepeda

Mara Cepeda specializes in stories about politics and local governance. She covers the Office of the Vice President, the Senate, and the Philippine opposition. She is a 2021 fellow of the Asia Journalism Fellowship and the Reham al-Farra Memorial Journalism Fellowship of the UN. Got tips? Email her at mara.cepeda@rappler.com or tweet @maracepeda.

image