By Genalyn Kabiling
President Duterte has apologized for his late visit to the communities hit by Taal Volcano’s wrath, but promised government’s sustained relief efforts until the crisis is over.
The President made the remarks after expressing satisfaction with the government response to Taal Volcano’s activity affecting Batangas and nearby areas.
Duterte visited Batangas City for the situation briefing on government’s efforts to deal with the volcano’s wrath. Afterwards, he visited a nearby evacuation center housing people displaced by Taal’s unrest and assured them of government aid.
“I’m sorry I was not around. I was in Davao. But I was preparing to leave that night when I was informed that I could not make it because of the ash. So at early morning, I insisted that I have to be here because there’s a crisis at pinilit ko ‘yung eroplano ( I forced the airplane),” he said at the meeting held at the Batangas Provincial Sports Complex.
So far, Duterte said he was “very pleased” with the national government agencies’ response to the latest calamity especially since there is no casualty. He also congratulated the local government units “for their splendid response to the crisis.”
“I am really very pleased, very happy that all agencies are here on hand and trying their best to do their best to help the community,” he said. “I am very satisfied, I said, with the response of everybody, [and with] the fact that no one was killed and that there’s nobody really sick.”
Duterte said the concerned agencies must continue to provide food and other assistance to the communities displaced by the natural disaster.
“We have to take care of day-to-day affairs of the community, those hard hit. The local and national government must stay for a while and do their work until such time that we are ready to declare that the crisis is over. It’s a continuing one.”
He admitted that he pitied the affected residents who were “covered in ashes like zombies.” “Kawawa naman,” he said.
The President also told local officials that they can talk to Cabinet members if they need any assistance. He said they are ready to help the people and ease their suffering. “We are workers of government and we work for the people. That’s the standard. We are here to help.”