Thursday, 24 December 2009

PGMA distributes relief goods in Legaspi City evacuation center

President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo today oversaw the distribution of foodstuffs and other basic necessities in various evacuation centers in Legaspi City.

Later, Albay Governor Joey Salceda, chairman of the Provincial Disaster Coordinating Council, told the President that the number of solders and policemen patrolling the area around Mayon Volcano have been doubled to ensure that everybody is moved to safer grounds and nobody is allowed to go within the danger zone.

For their part, officials of Philvolcs told the President the volcano could erupt any time.

In a media briefing in Malacañang earlier, Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita disclosed that 9,880 families had been moved to temporary shelters after the volcano showed signs of imminent eruption.

The families, composed of 47,137 individuals, are now housed in 26 school and other government buildings in the cities of Legaspi and Tabaco and in the towns of Maliliput, Camalig, and Guinobatan.

The President had flown in from Hong Kong, where she spent three days for a much needed rest with her family.

It has always been the President’s practice, Ermita said, to go directly to disaster and calamity areas from a trip abroad.

“She is one President I know, who after landing goes to the hangar of the airport and fly to any place in the Philippines, where her presence is needed” Ermita said.

As of 6 p.m. yesterday, Ermita said, Philvolcs had hoisted Alert Level 4, which means the volcano could erupt within days.

According to Ermita, school authorities have been advised to devise ways to enable students in evacuation centers to hold regular classes as soon as possible.

So far, the National Disaster Coordinating Council (NDCC) has released 10,200 sacks of rice worth P9.37 million, while the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) and RDCC have given away three truckloads of relief goods worth P2.1 million.

There is also a P500,000 standby fund for the purchase of additional relief goods if needed.

Also, the UNICEF donated 20 trailers of water jugs for the affected residents around the volcano.

The Executive secretary said the NDCC, RDCC, and other local government officials, along with private organizations, have made the necessary preparations to achieve zero-casualty, in pursuant to a policy formulated at President Arroyo’s insistence.

Before leaving for Hong Kong a few days ago, the President met with disaster control officials and ordered them to strictly implement the Extended Danger Zone (EDZ).

The EDZ consists of eight kilometers on the southern part and seven kilometers on northern part of the volcano’s summit. Nobody is allowed to go within that radius. (PND)


Arroyo orders police to find Mayon holdouts

By Rey M. Nasol
Inquirer Southern Luzon

LEGAZPI CITY, Philippines—-"Find the 56 holdouts!”

That, according to Albay Gov. Joey Salceda, was how President Macapagal-Arroyo barked out the order to military and police officials to find at least 56 people who reportedly refused to leave their homes despite Mayon’s Volcano’s continuing eruption, when she visited on Wednesday a temporary shelter for hundreds of people evacuated from homes and farms threatened by the volcano.

The President was reacting to the information that despite the continuous intense level of activity of Mayon, some resident refused to leave their homes within the danger zones.

But even people who have moved to evacuation centers, still go back to their homes—to check on their property, feed their animals, do some laundry, take a bath, use the toilets, gather firewood or any other personal reason—defying the danger.

Salceda said President Arroyo gave the order after clearing with the Department of Justice the forcible removal of stubborn residents still holding out in their homes.

She arrived in Legazpi at about 2:10 p.m. to personally convey her assurance of support to the affected residents now temporarily housed at various evacuation centers.

Ms Arroyo visited the Mayon evacuees at the Gogon Elementary School, which houses residents of Barangays Bonga and Buyuan, both within the declared danger zone.

She distributed food packs.

The school houses 743 families or 3,643 individuals.

The President was briefed by Phivolcs resident volcanologist Eduardo Laguerta on the condition of Mayon.

Salceda also explained to the President the nature of the existing disaster mitigation measures being put to work in all evacuation centers in the province.

“In response, President Arroyo committed P35 million worth of goods to the province of Albay but as of this time the provincial government is still utilizing its calamity funds,” he told local journalists.

“I already assured the President that everything is being taken care of by the provincial government in partnership with concerned government agencies,” Salceda said.

He said the province's resources are good for the next 17 days.

Salceda said that aside from ensuring food, sanitation, health services and safety of the evacuees and their properties, the provincial government was implementing a "cluster response approach" whreby nongovernment organizations, United Nations agencies and other stakeholders have identified their respective responses.

The President then proceeded to the Naval Forces of Southern Luzon in Rawis, Legazpi City, to inspect the stockpile of food and other donations from the World Food Program.

The joint Philippine Army-Philippine National Police Task Force Mayon has been conducting a census of individuals who keep on coming back to their homes despite the volcanic activity, including lava flows and ejections of ash, steam and gases.

“Because they cannot be told to stay at their designated evacuation centers, they would be asked to sign a waiver for risking their lives there,” said Capt. Razaleigh G. Bansawan, task force spokesman.

But this has yet to be decided upon by the Provincial Disaster Coordinating Council.

Bansawan said the implementation of a “no human activity” policy inside the danger zone was part of Salceda’s zero-casualty goal.

Bansawan said a report submitted to the PDCC was the subject of a new study to determine whether the local government units had truly evacuated all threatened residents.

He said their initial information showed that some 100 residents were still in Mabinit, barangay of Legazpi City within the eight-kilometer danger zone.

However, Salceda has strongly recommended not to allow any human activity within the danger zone.

“If you are there and Mayon violently erupts, you are dead, so what is the use of a waiver? It is better to stay away from the volcano while there is still time and return to normal habitats if Mayon returns to normal condition. After all, the government will help them rebuild their homes, farms and their lives," he said.

The Department of Health has provided P6 million for medicines and portable toilets for the evacuation centers in Albay.

Salceda briefed six teams of doctors and nurses from different government hospitals in Manila who arrived at the PDCC conference hall Wednesday to augment local workers at the shelters.

Tthe PDCC has secured 10,000 water jugs, mats and blankets.

DSWD Regional Director Remia Tapispisan immediately released and prepositioned materials at the Naval forces office in Rawis, Legazpi City for distribution to the operation centers.

The PDCC has also activated a water purifier donated by the Spanish government. It has a capacity of 30,000 liters per hour capacity.

However, for bathing, cooking and laundry, the Bureau of Fire Protection has been tasked by the PDCC to distribute water to all the evacuation centers three times a day.

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