MANILA - President Rodrigo Duterte on Monday visited Legazpi City, Albay amid the restive state of Mayon Volcano, vowing to prioritize the food and sanitation needs of thousands displaced by the volcano’s eruption.
Sanitation and food shortage concerns have been raised as over 80,000 residents living in the periphery of the restive volcano fled their homes and are now seeking refuge in evacuation centers.
Duterte said he wants these two concerns addressed immediately, handing out P25 million in checks to the provincial government and vowing to add P50 million more in the coming days.
“Iyung short-term [concern] is food and, well, an increased surveillance of contamination,” Duterte said during a situation briefing with local government officials and disaster management authorities in Legazpi City.
“If there is a congregation near each other infection can break [out] in a matter of days. So it is always demanded of the situation that we safeguard health so we have to provide temporary shelters.”
Duterte said he wants the Armed Forces to transport more portable toilets to evacuation centers.
“In the meantime if there is none constructed, we have to somehow deliver a sanitary way of disposing human waste. If there are available portable toilets in Manila, we can always send them,” the President said.
Alert level 4 remains hoisted over Mayon Volcano, a notch below the highest level, as it continued to spew out lava, ash, and other superheated material, volcanologists said.
State volcanologists and disaster management officials said the emergency raised over Mayon Volcano’s eruption could last for as long as three months.
While the eruptions have caused no injury or death, local officials are worried about providing food and shelter for the thousands of displaced residents if the emergency period gets prolonged.
Classes in the affected areas have also been stalled as some of the schools are being used as evacuation centers.
Duterte, meanwhile, tasked the Department of Agriculture to minimize the economic impact of the eruption to local farmers, even as the government has reported nearly P190 million worth of damage to the affected areas’ agriculture industry.
The government has so far released P54 million worth of assistance, coursed through the Department of Social Welfare and Development, Department of Health, Office of Civil Defense, local government units and non-government organizations.