CHR monitors human rights situation in areas affected by Taal volcano unrest

Published July 6, 2021, 3:08 PM

by Czarina Nicole Ong Ki


The Commission on Human Rights (CHR) said on Tuesday, July 6, it has been monitoring the human rights situations in Batangas communities affected by the Taal volcano unrest.

It underscored the importance of upholding a human rights-based approach to disaster and coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) response.

Taal volcano has been placed under alert level 3 since its phreatomagmatic eruption on July 1. On Tuesday, July 6, the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs) noted steam-rich plumes that rose over three kilometers over the main crater of the volcano.

“The CHR recognizes the prompt action of local and national government units in ensuring the health and safety of affected residents in Batangas in anticipation of any further volcanic activity in the area,” CHR Deputy Spokesperson Marc Louis Siapno said in a statement.

Siapno said the CHR also noted the “commitment” made by the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) that it has enough resources to address both food and non-food requirements of people who will be transferred to evacuation centers.

The Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH), he said, had also announced its plans for pre, during, and post-disaster response. He noted that the DPWH’s engineering offices in Region IV-A are all set to assist evacuees and the clearing of national roads.

He pointed out that the CHR highlighted in its “Human Rights Standards on Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) affected by the Taal Volcano Eruption” advisory in Jan. 2020 that principles of humanity and “do no harm” are important things to consider in aid provisions.

“Inclusive approach of protecting every individual’s right to life and health is crucial in curbing the spread of coronavirus among displaced persons especially in evacuation sites,” he said, as “they are disproportionately vulnerable to health risks, discrimination, and lack of access to basic social services.”

Aside from aid distribution, Siapno said there should also be a special consideration for measures covering mental health and psychosocial aspects, protection from sexual exploitation and abuse, and other gender issues, among many other things.

“Learning from our experiences during the Taal Volcano eruption last year, the Commission looks forward to a responsive government program that will mitigate further human losses and economic damage,” he added.