MANILA - The outpouring of aid for victims of the Taal eruption has helped Batangas cope with a Luzon-wide lockdown over the continuous spread of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), the province's governor said Thursday.
Food supply in Batangas, which produces a quarter of Metro Manila's livestock demands, has been stable despite sealed borders thanks to the outpour of relief items for Taal volcano victims, Gov. Hermilando Mandanas told DZMM.
The province received millions-worth of aid in early January from the national government and the private sector after the Taal volcano erupted, blanketing the province and nearby areas in ash and mud.
"Ang ating unang naging problema ay ang pagputok ng bulkang Taal pero ngayon yung problemang 'yun ay parang nagiging malaking tulong dahil... napakaraming pagkain, gamot na pumasok sa dito sa lalawigan ng Batangas," Mandanas said.
"Talagang malaki ang malasakit hindi lang ng ating pamahalaan kung 'di pati ang ating mga kababayan," he said.
The governor said it was important to keep Batangas stable as the province is the country's largest producer of pork, chicken and tilapia. Several factories that process oil and gas for vehicles and ships are also situated in the Southern Luzon province.
Batangas, considered as Luzon's main gate to the nautical highway, also has enough supply to feed and house passengers stranded in the province after ports were closed to avoid the spread of the COVID-19 to other parts of the Philippines.
"Inaalagaan natin yung mga hindi na makaalis, pinapakain natin, pinapatulog natin. Meron tayong mga center para diyan," Mandanas said, noting that most of the stranded passengers were bound for Romblon, Iloilo and the Negros Islands.
"Panatag naman [sa Batangas]. Meron mga sigalot pero under control," he said.
President Rodrigo Duterte placed Luzon, the Philippines' most populous island, under an enhanced community quarantine as the government tries to contain the virus, which has killed 202 people in the country.
As of March 18, 17 COVID-19 patients in the Philippines died from the disease, 7 recovered, while the rest remain confined in hospitals.
The Philippines is under a state of calamity as the national and local governments tap into their quick response funds to provide aid for those who will temporarily lose their income due to the mandatory closure of malls, and other non-essential establishments.
The World Health Organization called the COVID-19 a global epidemic as the disease which originated from Wuhan, China has killed nearly 8,000 people and infected abut 200,000 others worldwide.