Albay seeks ‘augmentation support’ from gov’t for evacuees

Rhadyz B. Barcia

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Albay seeks ‘augmentation support’ from gov’t for evacuees
More than 7,000 families are temporarily sheltered in evacuation sites due to Mayon Volcano

LEGAZPI CITY, Philippines – Albay needs “augmentation support” from the national government to hasten the delivery of the basic needs of thousands of families forced to evacuate because of Mayor Volcano, Governor Al Francis Bichara said on Saturday, January 20.

Bichara said on Saturday that the provincial government was having difficulty due to the snail-paced release of money from their Quick Response Fund (QRF), which he quipped was more of a “delayed respond fund.”

He said that the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) had informed him that the province’s internal revenue allotment for 2018 will soon be downloaded to the local government so it can tap into the calamity fund. (READ: Where can you access disaster funds?)

“What we need is augmentation support from the national government. The DBM called up already and promised to download the IRA but our problem is the bureaucratic process that takes so long,” Bichara said.

According to the governor, the Department of Health has downloaded some P2 million for toilet facilities in the evacuation sites, while the  the Department of Social Welfare and Development will provide relief augmentation for the affected cities and municipalities. 

The Department of Education also said that it has alloted P19 million for makeshift classrooms so that classes would continue despite Mayon. 

The Albay governor also called for a review of the Local Government Code to expedite the release of funds for local government units affected by natural calamities. 

“Money should be downloaded immediately because we know what we need in our respective areas and the President knows it because he came from the LGU and served as a mayor,” Bichara said.

President Rodrigo Duterte was Davao City mayor before he became Chief Executive.

Thousands of families had been displaced since January 13. To date there are 7,256 families or 27,643 individuals temporarily staying in classrooms that served as evacuation sites in Albay:

  • Camalig – 1,955 families or 7,332 individuals
  • Daraga – 1,512 families or 6,014 individuals
  • Guinobatan – 1,319 families or 4,520 individuals
  • Malilipot – 797 families or 3,064 individuals 
  • Sto Domingo – 640 families or 2,593 individuals
  • Tabaco – 568 families or 2,210 individuals
  • Ligao – 465 families or 1,883 individuals

No time for complacency

On Friday, January 19, lava and pyroclastic flow from the restive Mayon volcano moved 3 kilometers from the crater, halfway to a “no man’s land” area where a handful of farmers till the land for vegetable farming and livelihood.

Alert Level 3 remained in effect over Mayon, which means that it was still in a relatively high level of unrest and hazardous eruption remained a possibility  within weeks or even days.

The public was strongly advised to remain vigilant and to avoid entering the 6-kilometer permanent danger zone and the 7-km extended danger zone. 

The Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs) and local authorities urged residents not to be complacent. (READ: Rappler Talk: How serious is the Mayon Volcano threat?

“From our naked eyes, Mayon volcano might be quiet and just ejecting lava flow but please don’t be complacent. It might generate explosive magmatic eruption in the coming days as the volcano is swelling due to the continuous magma build-up,” said  Mariton Bornas, Phivolcs volcano monitoring eruption prediction chief.

Bornas said that the magma beneath Mayon had been slowly creeping towards the crater for the past months and was actively emitting sulphur dioxide.

“Mayon is always a challenge. Many international partners are studying the characteristic of Mayon Volcano. Although it is the most equipped volcano in the world with state of the art gadgets around, it’s hard to predict how Mayon will behave,” she said. –

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