MANILA - The reopening of business establishments in Tagaytay while an imminent hazardous eruption alert is still raised over the Taal Volcano is "not profiteering," Senator Francis Tolentino said Tuesday, a day after an interior official questioned the resumption of commercial operations in the ridge-side tourism hub.
Establishments were not reopened just for the sake of making money, said Tolentino, a former mayor of Tagaytay City.
"Kaya nagbukas ang ibang mga hotels, mababa nga ang presyo, para ang ibang volunteers makapunta rin doon, para magkatrabaho din ang mga waiters, mga chef na walang trabaho, mga nagsusuplay ng gulay para magkahanapbuhay din," he told Senate reporters.
The Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology marked Tagaytay as safe from the Taal Volcano's lava flow because of its high elevation, he said.
"[The] ultimate decision is with the tourists themselves. Pupunta ka ba? Hindi ka naman pipilitin. Binuksan lang nila for you to have the choice and for rescuers, volunteers," he said.
Tolentino gave the statement a day after Interior Undersecretary Epimaco Densing Jr. said commercial establishments in Tagaytay should remain closed while the threat of ashfall and other hazards remains.
Tagaytay will treat Densing's statement as a "recommendation" and will continue with the resumption of business operations, Tolentino's brother, Cavite Rep. Abraham "Bambol" Tolentino, earlier said.
Tagaytay—the Tolentino clan's bailiwick and hometown—primarily relies on tourism revenue from 285 restaurants, 64 road-side eateries, and 56 hotels. Weekenders usually flock to the cliff-side city for its famous beef marrow soup (bulalo), pineapples and tawilis.
While Tagaytay is pushing to bring back a sense of normalcy in the destination dubbed as the "wedding capital of the Philippines," business that cannot provide water for its customers should remain closed, the senator said.
Kaybubutong Spring, where a portion of Tagaytay's water supply is sourced, was "partially affected" by the ashfall and authorities are still treating the water, Tolentino said.
"If you are a responsible businessman there at alam mong walang tubig, 'wag kang magbukas," he said.