Hontiveros, Gatchalian seek cash aid, loan break for volcano-affected residents

Katrina Domingo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jan 21 2020 02:23 PM

Evacuees from the Taal Volcano eruption settle at Alfonso Central School in Alfonso, Cavite on Jan. 20, 2020. Mark Demayo, ABS-CBN News

MANILA - Two senators on Tuesday pushed for the disbursement of more cash aid and a year-long moratorium on loan payments in areas hit by the recent Taal Volcano eruption.

Each family displaced by the restive Taal Volcano should receive P30,000 from the government, Sen. Risa Hontiveros said, noting that the fund will be sourced from the P30-billion supplemental budget that President Rodrigo Duterte earlier requested from Congress.

"Kasi 'yong mga nasiraan ng bahay kailangan umupa for the next few months, kailangan ng pantawid ng trabaho, at kahit 'yong mga nakikitira sa bahay ng mga kamag-anak nila, kailangan nilang tumulong para gumaan 'yong mga gastusin," she told Senate reporters.

(Because those who lost their homes would need to rent for a few months, they need livelihood, and even those who now live with their relatives need help to ease their expenses.)

The Government Service Insurance System (GSIS), the Social Security System (SSS) and the Home Development Mutual Fund (Pag-IBIG Fund), as well as private lending firms, should impose a 1-year moratorium on loan amortizations for members who live in areas affected by the Taal's ashfall, Sen. Sherwin Gatchalian said.

Local governments should also suspend the imposition of penalties against businesses in calamity-affected areas and be "more lenient" on the payment of business taxes and permit fees, he said in Senate Resolution No. 289.

"[This] will not only help affected citizens to recover and rebuild, it will also facilitate and reinvigorate the economy of the affected areas," he said.

The Philippines is expected to lose at least P4-billion in potential income after the ashfall caked farms with gray mud and slowed economic activity in tourism areas, socioeconomic managers earlier said.

The country's second-most active volcano simmered down on Tuesday, a week after it spewed an ash column that doused nearby provinces with thick ash, the Philippine Institute for Volcanology and Seismology said, but added that it does not rule out the possibility of another eruption.

“We have ground deformation parameters that the volcano is still inflated and is still inflating,” Phivolcs Volcano Monitoring and Eruption Prediction Division head Mariton Bornas said in a press conference.

“The magma is already there and the volcano can easily erupt.”