PH needs P100-billion for Taal rehab - Salceda

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jan 16 2020 03:31 PM | Updated as of Jan 16 2020 08:23 PM

Residents attempt to dig up their belongings in Taal Volcano island in Batangas on January 14, 2020. George Calvelo, ABS-CBN News

MANILA—The Philippine government will have to spend as much as P100 billion to rehabilitate areas affected by the Taal Volcano eruption, a lawmaker said Thursday.

"Kung ako tatanungin niyo, between P60 billion to P100 billion dapat ilaan para ma-leapfrog," Albay 2nd District Rep. Joey Salceda told reporters.

(If you'll ask, some P60 billion to P100 billion will have to be allocated to leapfrog [these areas].)

Salceda said the House of Representatives will seek additional funding, saying the P16-billion calamity fund or the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Fund in the 2020 national budget would not be enough.

During the interview, he called on lawmakers to fast-track the passage of a bill creating the Department of Disaster Resilience (DDR), which will be the primary agency responsible for disaster preparedness, prevention, mitigation, response, recovery and rehabilitation.

Agencies under DDR, which will include the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs), will now be open to public scrutiny, Salceda added.

Amid Taal Volcano's continued unrest, the lawmaker urged concerned agencies to enforce a "no-build zone" policy around the area. He also asked the public to coordinate the rescue of stranded animals in the island.

Salceda also disagreed with Cavite 4th District Rep. Elpidio Barzaga Jr.'s call to conduct a congressional inquiry over the supposed lack of government alerts on the eruption.

"Dapat iwasan muna imbestigasyon, tulong muna. I don't share the need for an investigation," he said, adding the government must first focus on providing relief and assistance to affected communities.

PERMANENT EVACUATION CENTERS

Meanwhile, Camarines Sur 2nd District. Rep. LRay Villafuerte also sought the swift approval of DRR, which will facilitate the creation of permanent evacuation centers and formulation of disaster management plans.

He called on the Senate to act on its version of the House-approved consolidated DDR bill when Congress resumes session next week.

"Taal’s continued eruption after 4 decades of dormancy gives the Congress more reason to pass this measure creating a new department that would let government best prepare for natural calamities along with other disasters induced by climate change," Villafuerte said.

He added, "The would-be DDR could help local government units craft disaster management plans in their respective localities so they could best implement the government’s zero-casualty goals in times of disasters."

He made this call following a report that households polled in Calabarzon had no disaster management plan specific for a volcanic eruption, based on a Harvard Humanitarian Initiative Program on Resilient Communities' 2017 nationwide survey reportedly released this week.

Villafuerte also reiterated his proposal on the creation of permanent evacuation centers as over 50,000 people are staying in over 200 temporary shelters following the eruption.

"Permanent evacuation centers are now a must," he said.—Report from RG Cruz, ABS-CBN News