MANILA- It's business as usual for Tagaytay City despite a closure order on commercial establishments in the top tourist spot due to the possible hazardous eruption of the Taal Volcano.
The Department of the Interior and Local Government memorandum mandating the closure of business firms in Tagaytay will only be treated as a "recommendation," Cavite Rep. Abraham Tolentino said Monday as he insisted the local government's authority over the area.
“As of now, we will treat it as a recommendation... Business as usual pa rin," Tolentino said in a text message to ABS-CBN News.
Under the Local Government Code, mayors decide on such matters, Tolentino said.
His statement comes after DILG Undersecretary Epimaco Densing on Monday said commercial establishments in Tagaytay should remain closed since the city may experience ashfall anew in the event that the volcano erupts.
"Yung sa may taas, 'yung sa may high side, iyon pinapatigil namin 'yung commercial operations para walang turistang pumunta doon at mga locality na tumambay," he told reporters in Malacañang.
(We are ordering a halt on commercial operations in the high side of the city so that no tourist would go and stay there)
There are some 285 restaurants, 64 road-side eateries and 56 hotels in Tagaytay, government data showed. The city is known for bulalo (beef marrow soup), pineapples, and tawilis, an endangered sardine.
Local authorities plan to hold a grand reopening of Tagaytay on Jan. 24 in time for the Chinese New Year.
Densing issued the statement even after Phivolcs last week clarified that evacuation is unnecessary in some parts of the cities.
The DILG could send policemen to close down defiant establishments, he warned.
"And if they continue to operate even in the absence of those permits, we will send the Philippine National Police to close them down," he said.
While the government understands the losses incurred by businesses affected by Taal Volcano's eruption, Densing maintained the need to prioritize the people's safety.
"Umaaray naman talaga 'yung mga negosyante natin doon (We undestand the losses of businessmen). We understand. But safety first before profit," he said.
"Hopefully, we could have a dialogue with the businesses and see what kind of assistance we could give together with the Department of Trade and Industry," he added.