Villanueva urges gov’t to brace for any impact of Taal eruption to vaccine rollout

Villanueva urges gov’t to brace for any impact of Taal eruption to vaccine rollout

By Ernie Reyes

MANILA — The government should brace for any impact brought about by Taal
Volcano’s eruption as the unrest could trigger several events “from a
NAIA closure that will delay vaccine shipments, to factories in the
country’s manufacturing belt suspending work,” Senator Joel Villanueva
said today.

Villanueva suggested that the government put on standby the P6.37
billion Quick Reaction Fund component of the so-called Calamity Fund
in the 2021 national budget. That amount is distributed among 8
agencies in the DPWH, DepED, DOH, DILG, DA, and DND.

“From a planning perspective, let’s assume the worst-case scenario,
and be proactive in anticipating the needs of affected residents.
Paghandaan na po natin ang mga kakailanganin ng ating mga kababayan sa
Batangas at Southern Tagalog region, lalo na po sa mga residenteng
nasa paligid ng danger zones,” said Villanueva, chair of the Senate
labor committee. “Ihanda na po natin ang ayuda para sa mga posibleng
madi-displace mula sa kanilang mga tahanan.”

He said the January 12, 2020 eruption of Taal Volcano was a preview on
how “the world’s smallest active volcano can cause big damage in
places beyond its immediate danger zone.”

The ashfall during that eruption, he added, canceled 643 flights at
NAIA and Clark airport in Pampanga, affecting more than 100,000
passengers.

“If that happens again, heaven forbid, what’s our Plan B for flights
carrying imported vaccines? And how will we dispatch vaccines to
provinces because we’re using Manila as a base,” he said.

He also warned of economic fallout, “and it comes at a time when
factories are restarting their operations.”

Within the 50-kilometer radius of the volcano lies the biggest
concentration of factories, he said, referring to economic zones in
the Batangas, Laguna, and Cavite areas.

Tourism and services will also be affected as Tagaytay and other areas
in Cavite and Batangas are Metro Manila’s “nearest rest and recreation
place.”

“Yung ashfall ng Taal nakakapuwing talaga yan: sa ekonomiya, sa
transportasyon, at sa negosyo ng mga lugar na medyo may kalayuan na,”
Villanueva said.

But our immediate concern should be the people of Batangas and Cavite
living near the volcano, in areas designated by the government as
danger zones, the senator said.

The last time Taal erupted, it displaced close to 550,000 people.

He said local governments who are having a hard time making ends meet
during the pandemic do not have the resources to confront “a double
whammy, a double V – virus and volcano.” (ai/mtvn)

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