Senators urge DOH, LGUs to distribute face masks for free to ashfall-hit areas

Robie de Guzman   •   January 13, 2020   •   248

Villagers take shelter inside a church during an eruption of Taal Volcano, in Talisay, Batangas, Philippines, 12 January 2020. EPA-EFE/FRANCIS R. MALASIG

MANILA, Philippines – Senators on Monday urged the Department of Health (DOH) and local government units to distribute face masks and other similar protective gear for free to people affected by the eruption of Taal Volcano.

In a statement, Senator Nancy Binay called on the DOH to include protective masks in relief packages to be distributed by the Department of Social Welfare and Development and affected local government units.

“Sana i-prioritize ng DOH ang agarang pamimigay ng masks pati na rin mga gamot para maprotektahan ang mga kababayan natin,” Binay said, adding that children and those with respiratory and other health conditions should be given priority.

She also added that the government should enlist the help of the private sector in procuring masks as well as other supplies that would protect affected citizens.

She also slammed the “enterprising” attitude of traders and hoarders that have taken advantage of the situation and exacerbated the lack of supply.

“Sana naman huwag natin sinasamantala ang ganitong mga krisis para lang kumita. Sana mas manaig ang pagbabayanihan at pagkawanggawa sa mga ganitong sitwasyon,” Binay said.

Senator Risa Hontiveros also urged the DOH and local government units to use their stock of face masks and protective equipment and provide them for free to people who need them the most, such as families in badly-affected areas, first responders, and the immunocompromised such as the sick elderly and very young.  

“No expense is too high to ensure thkkkkkke safety and good health of our people, especially in this time of need,” she said in a press statement.

The lawmaker also called on the public not to overstock and hoard supplies of face masks “so that everyone in the metro will get the protection needed to avoid serious health risks when we go outside of our homes.”

“Ngayong panahon ng sakuna, unahin natin ang kaligtasan at kalusugan ng lahat,” she said.

“This shameful profiteering by businesses at the expense of the health of others must stop,” she added.

Senator Sonny Angara, meanwhile, renewed his call for the establishment of an agency dedicated to dealing with all of the challenges brought about by natural disasters such as earthquakes, volcanic eruptions and typhoons.

The Senate Bill 331 or the proposed disaster resilience act of 2019 calls for the creation of a Department of Disaster Resilience that will be the country’s lead agency on all matters related to disasters and climate change.

The bill proposes that during times of disaster, the said department will be tasked to undertake the necessary measures to ensure the protection of the people, including preemptive and forced evacuations. It is also mandated to develop and implement programs on disaster risk reduction, disaster preparedness and response, and recovery and building better.

Angara also called on communities to heed official advisories and take necessary precautions to protect themselves and their families’ health.

“We call on all the agencies concerned to provide the necessary assistance to the affected areas,” he added.

DILG to affected LGUs, residents: Be prepared for any eventuality

Aileen Cerrudo   •   January 28, 2020

The Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) reminds residents and local government units (LGUs) of areas affected by the Taal eruption to remain vigilant despite the lowering of alert level from 4 to 3.

DILG Secretary Eduardo Año said that even the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs) said that residents in the Taal area should still be on guard.

“The crisis is not over. It’s over when there is no longer any alert level,” he said. “Maging handa at listo pa rin tayo sa ano mang puwedeng mangyari para masiguro ang kaligtasan ng ating mga kababayan, (Let us remain alert and vigilant on what might happen to ensure the safety of our fellowmen)

Año also said residents outside of the 7-km danger zone may return to their respective residences and places of work subject to clearance from their respective Local Government Units.

“Based on your sound discretion, you may advise residents, communities, and owners of business establishments, particularly those outside the 7-km Danger Zone, that they have the option to return, but must be prepared for a quick and organized evacuation at such time that the alert level will again be raised,” he said to the various LGUs.

Meanwhile, the DILG Secretary said entry into the Taal Volcano Island’s Permanent Danger Zone is strictly prohibited.

Based on reports from the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC), a total of 102,443 families were affected by the Taal eruption in the provinces of Batangas, Quezon, Laguna and Cavite and a total of P3.352-billion worth of damage to infrastructure and agriculture was incurred in Batangas, Laguna, and Cavite.—AAC

DOH: 11 patients under investigation for suspected novel coronavirus

Aileen Cerrudo   •   January 27, 2020

The Department of Health (DOH) has confirmed that 11 patients are under investigation for suspected novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) in the Philippines.

Health Secretary Francisco Duque III said the 11 patients under investigation have a history of travel to Wuhan, China, the epicenter of the virus.

Based on the DOH, two of the 11 patients are in Metro Manila, one in MIMAROPA, three in Western Visayas, one in Eastern Visayas, three in Central Visayas and one in Northern Mindanao.

Duque said all the patients under investigation are being closely monitored. He also reiterated that there are still zero confirmed nCoV cases in the Philippines.

“There shouldn’t be any cause for alarm. Just because we flashed the areas where the PUIs come from, it doesn’t mean those areas are infected with the novel coronavirus, because there’s none. We keep harping the fact that there is none—still zero as of today,” he said.

DOH Epidemiology Bureau officer-in-charge Chito Avelino said the five-year-old patient in Cebu has already been discharged, while the others are already in the process of being released.

The DOH also reminds the public to practice good hygiene to prevent the risk of infection from any virus.—AAC (with reports from Rosalie Coz)

PH Navy donates relief goods to Taal victims

Aileen Cerrudo   •   January 27, 2020

The Philippine Navy (PN) donated P700,000 worth of relief goods to the municipality of San Luis in Batangas on Sunday (January 26).

According to the Philippine Navy, three evacuation sites where identified for the distribution of the relief goods: San Isidro Labrador Parish Church in Brgy. Poblacion, Taliba Evacuation Center in BrgyTaliba and San Luis Academy in Calumpang West.

Around 4,000 relief goods were given to the evacuees in the three said areas which include a pail, 1 kilo of rice, assorted canned goods, food packs, bottled waters and personal hygiene kits.

Other relief goods from various organizations were also distributed.

“150 mattress foamS from Uratex Company and dozens of various relief items from other PN stakeholders were also distributed in this activity,” according to the Philippine Navy.

Philippine Navy Flag Officer In Command Vice Admiral Robert A. Empedrad said he wants to ensure proper assistance is provided by the Philippine Navy before he retires. Empedrad will be retiring from office by next week.

“We are always willing to assist our stakeholders as we assure everyone that your Navy is always ready to serve in every situation and that you can always count on us,” he said.—AAC

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