House Ways and Means Chair Joey Sarte Salceda (Albay, 2nd district) has conveyed his sincere thanks to Department of Social Welfare and Development Secretary Rex Gatchalian for quickly responding to his request for food packs for the 9,829 families evacuated from the 6-kilometer permanent danger zone (PDZ) and 7-kilometer danger zone around Mayon Volcano.
The evacuees come from the towns of Camalig, Daraga, Guinobatan, Santo Domingo, and Malilipot, who were brought to safety as the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs) on Thursday elevated the volcano’s alert level to 3 and ordered preemptive evacuation.
In a letter to Gatchalian dated May 8, or immediately after the evacuation order was issued, Salceda requested food packs for the 45-day and 90-day evacuation scenarios for affected residents in the five Albay municipalities.
“The scenarios are based on historical experiences with Mayon volcanic activity, where evacuation tends to be protracted to 47 days or 90 days. We hope DSWD will be able to grant at least 50% of the food pack requirements for the 45-days scenario, considering that most these requirements will materialize once Alert Level 4 is declared,” Salceda said.
The request includes some 147,435 food packs for the 45-day scenario, and 294,870 food packs for the 90-day scenario, or “to at least prepare 50 percent of the 45-day requirements.”
In a text message, Gatchalian quickly assured Salceda they “have 60,000 food packs in Albay warehouses… and in the neighboring warehouses in the entire region, another 40,000.”
“Cong, we can most definitely provide support to your LGUs, going even further than the 50 percent of the 45-day scenario,” Gatchalian assured Salceda. dded.
Following the advice of PHIVOLCS, an initial 4,749 families or more than 18,000 persons have already been evacuated to safety,
mostly in public school buildings and previously identified evacuation centers. Salceda who was Albay governor for three consecutive terms until 2016, said the five towns mentioned have the most families in immediate danger.
“Southeast quadrant, and Malilipot, in the Northeast – these have the most people exposed to immediate risks. So, we prepare what we need for their evacuation first, before anything else,” Salceda explained.
The Southeast quadrant covers Camalig, Daraga, Guinobatan, and Sto. Domingo towns with 7,963 families or 29,880, while the Northeast quadrant has the town of Malilipot with 1,966 families or 7,226 individuals.
“Some 5,000 food packs in total have also already been released by the DSWD to the towns of Guinobatan, Camalig, and Santo Domingo following my request. The response of DSWD, largely due to Secretary Gatchalian’s intervention, has been almost immediate. And we are very thankful,” Salceda stressed.
“We are also in touch with the DSWD Regional Field Office V, and we are requesting other essential food and non-food items with other agencies, including hygiene and sanitation needs,” he added.