The National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) gathered top officials of its member agencies on Tuesday, 21 January 2020, for an emergency full council meeting. The meeting discussed pressing matters that needed the Council’s decision relative to updates on the recent Taal Volcano eruption as well as recovery from other calamities.
Presided by NDRRMC Chairperson and Secretary of National Defense Delfin N. Lorenzana, the meeting was participated by the heads or representatives of OCD, DILG, DSWD, NEDA, ES, DOH, DENR, DOF, DTI, DOTR, DPWH, DFA, DOJ, DOLE, DOT, DICT, OPAPP, PCOO, CHED, PCW, NAPC-VCD, CCC, AFP, PRC, PHILHEALTH, ULAP, LPP, LCP. Attendees from ADMU-ASOG, World Vision, and DRRNET-PHILS also joined.
Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (PHIVOLCS) Officer-in-Charge Undersecretary Renato Solidum relayed the latest updates on Taal volcano, gave an account of PHIVOLCS’ previous and ongoing monitoring activities, and reiterated the possible worst-case scenario of ballistic projectiles, volcanic tsunami, and base surge that can inflict major damage to areas within the 14-kilometer radius.
Apprising on the effects and damages relative to the Taal eruption, Undersecretary Ricardo Jalad of the Office of Civil Defense (OCD) identified a total of 71,717 families or 282,021 persons affected, while a total of Php3,215,788,882.00 worth of damages to agriculture was incurred in the provinces of Batangas, Cavite, and Laguna. To date, 493 evacuation centers in CALABARZON are open and are serving 39,052 families or 148,987 persons. Meanwhile, 23,133 families or 90,017 persons are being served outside the evacuation centers.
OCD facilitated the distribution of N95 masks for the responders and affected population, as well as transportation of other logistical requirements and deployment of water tankers for evacuation centers. Transportation for the delivery of food and non-food items (FNFIs) and the conduct of aerial surveys for assessment purposes were also coordinated by the OCD. The DOTr and the AFP provided logistical support for these aerial surveys.
The collective efforts of the Search, Rescue and Retrieval (SRR) Cluster which includes the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), Philippine National Police (PNP), Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP) and Philippine Coast of Guard (PCG) have provided assistance in the hauling, delivery and distribution of relief goods, deployment of personnel for evacuation, conducted water rationing, flushing operations and dredging of roads to clear off ashes, as well as the rescue and emergency medical operations.
The Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) deployed manpower and equipment to assist in the rescue efforts. Cleaning and clearing of ash fall and cropping of trees in road sections outside the danger zone are ongoing.
A total of Php9,190,412 worth of logistical assistance was provided by the Department of Health (DOH), including medicines, face masks, water disinfectants, and hygiene kits. DOH also conducted site inspection in the evacuation centers in Batangas, and deployed personnel for Rapid Health Assessment (RHA), Emergency Response Teams (ERTs), and Human Resources for Health (HRH). Disease surveillance and nutrition services are also provided in the evacuation areas.
On the distribution of food and non-food items, the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) has provided a total of Php16,586,946.28 worth FNFIs as of 20 January 2020. Private donors also extended support in the form of assorted in-kind donations and transport vehicles to assist in the delivery of relief items. Around 1,000 volunteers also assisted in the repacking of relief goods.
The Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) installed high-frequency radios in RDRRMC CALABARZON EOC, and provided generator sets and VHF/UHF radios for DICT Tagaytay Relay Stations. It also installed communications equipment, computers, and internet access at Fernando Air Base in Lipa City.
After consensus was reached, the Council approved a Resolution recommending to the President the declaration of a State of Calamity for Regions II, CALABARZON, MIMAROPA, V, VI, VIII, XI, and XIII which have been affected by recent disasters. “The Declaration of a State of Calamity is expected to mitigate the effects of disasters as well as stabilize the situation in disaster-stricken areas. It too will benefit the affected Regions in terms of livelihood and recovery efforts,” Undersecretary Jalad remarked.
A Memorandum Order directing the Uniformed Services to adopt personal safety measures for their personnel was issued to ensure the protection and well-being of the responders before deployment relative to Taal response operations. To provide potable drinking water to the affected areas, a Memorandum Order was also issued, appointing DSWD as the principal agency in its distribution, with the DOH ensuring the water’s potability.
In addition to these agreements, the Council also approved the adoption of the DSWD’s Emergency Cash Transfer (ECT) program during disasters. This will be implemented by DSWD, utilizing NDRRM Funds. The ECT program is an adaptive strategy in bridging the gaps between immediate disaster relief, humanitarian response, and early recovery support through the provision of unconditional cash to victims of disasters and emergency situations requiring interventions.
Secretary Lorenzana thanked the Council for a lively discussion that broached additional concerns and produced concrete actions on the Taal eruption as well as other earlier disasters. “We will continue with our job in helping families and communities, and in rehabilitating the areas that are affected by calamities,” Lorenzana emphasized.