By Vanne Elaine Terrazola
The Senate has appealed to the Department of Human Settlements and Urban Development (DHSUD) to come up with housing and rehabilitation plans for families displaced by the eruption of the Taal Volcano last January.
The Upper Chamber recently adopted Senate Resolution No. 297 to call on the DSHUD to formulate a Taal Volcano resettlement and rehabilitation program especially for the residents of the volcano island.
Senate committee on urban planning, housing and resettlements chair Senator Francis Tolentino, during their plenary discussion Wednesday (May 13), said at least 900 families remain in evacuation centers in five barangays of Talisay, Batangas, months after the eruption.
“900 families, inabutan pa ho ngayon ng COVID-19 (still in evacuation centers despite the COVID-19 outbreak). Talagang hindi na sila makakaalis (They are stuck there),” Tolentino, who sponsored the resolution, said.
According to the former Tagaytay City mayor, the affected residents now face a “double whammy” due to the volcano’s eruption and the spread of the novel coronavirus disease.
In pushing for the resolution’s adoption, Tolentino said the Senate should remind the government about the plight of these families while it focuses on addressing the COVID-19 outbreak and its economic impacts.
“This is a simple resolution that would show that the Senate is touching the hearts of our kababayans (countrymen) in Batangas, Cavite, Calabarzon. They are not yet forgotten. The damages brought about by the Taal Volcano should never be forgotten,” he told his colleagues.
“Many of them rely on the tourism related activities including fisheries in the Taal Volcano island. But it is now, as it has been declared, a ‘no man’s land’. It is for the government to provide government assistance to them,” he added.
Aside from the appeal to DHSUD, Tolentino said the resolution seeks to recognize the efforts of the national and local governments in responding to the calamity.
Taal Volcano spewed ash and lava last January 12, damaging thousands of houses, hectares of agricultural lands, and a whole lake.
The Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs) said Taal Volcano remains on Alert Level 1. President Duterte earlier declared the island a “no man’s land”.