This has inflated the number of families affected by the eruption to 22,472 or equivalent to 96,061 persons, the National Disaster Risk Reduction Management Council reported in its noon update Friday.
READ: 40,000 people bear brunt of Taal eruption
Based on the NDRRMC report, all the affected families came from Batangas and the neighboring provinces of Cavite and Laguna.
Batangas Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office head Lito Castro said villagers within Taal’s 14-kilometer radius danger zone were not allowed to return to their homes.
The towns of Agoncillo, Alitagtag, Balete, Cuenca, Laurel, Lemery, Malvar, San Nicolas, Santa Teresita, Taal and Talisay were locked down by local police, along with portions of the municipalities of Lipa, Mataas Na Kahoy and Tanauan.
State seismologists identified these towns as susceptible to ballistic projectiles, base surges and volcanic tsunami in case of a major eruption by the country’s second most active volcano.
This developed as displaced families staying in schools due to Taal’s eruption will be transferred to different temporary shelters to avoid a disruption of classes, Education Secretary Leonor Briones said Friday.
Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea said the government has found a three-hectare lot in Bauan, Batangas that can be used by the evacuees.
“We are negotiating with the local government, with the mayors, governors so that they can identify spaces where they can put up temporary shelters for the evacuees so children can use the schools,” Briones said in a chance interview with reporters.
“We cannot do anything. A choice has to be made,” she added.
Supporting the DepEd’s move, Senator Manuel “Lito” Lapid wants to require all primary and secondary schools in the country to teach subjects on disaster awareness and disaster mitigation.
In his proposed Senate Bill 1140, Lapid seeks to integrate in the curricula of the country’s schools a subject that fully explains the natural and man-made disasters to instill disaster preparedness.
The senator said it is important for the Filipino youth to appreciate sufficient preparedness for calamities that may strike the country any time.
“It is important that before a calamity hits the country, our people should be prepared. It’s not enough that we just respond in case a structure was destroyed or somebody was hurt,” said Lapid.
In Cavite, which also declared a state of calamity after the volcano’s eruption, Gov. Jonvic Remulla convened an emergency meeting of the Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council with the mayors across the province, who have also welcomed evacuees from the heavily affected municipalities of Batangas.
Some issues identified by the different LGUs, particularly Tagaytay City, Alfonso, Amadeo, Silang, and Indang, were the disruption of water and power supply. Mayor Frederick Vida of Mendez reported that power firms had been conducting continuous cleaning operations to restore electricity immediately.
The Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology, meanwhile, remained firm that all residents of Taal’s volcano island must be evacuated because a hazardous eruption is still likely.
Director Renato Solidum also told residents in the high-risk areas identified in hazard maps within the 14-kilometer radius from the Taal main crater to leave the area due to risk of a base surge and a volcanic tsunami.
Health authorities, Castro of Batangas said, had also responded to the medical needs of evacuees.
“We are told to bring the sick immediately to the hospital while those with minor illness can be treated in evacuation centers,” he said.
If Taal’s unrest continues, Castro feared the province would not have enough funds to sustain the relief efforts.
“If this will continue, for sure, our resources will not last,” he said.
“Even during the Mayon eruption, we said the use of school buildings as evacuation centers must be avoided so that classes won’t be interrupted. They must find a place where temporary learning shelters can be put up, just like in Marawi,” Briones told reporters on the sidelines of the launch of the “Duterte Legacy” campaign in Pasay City.
“The learners don’t have classes, there is a gap. This is why we’re trying to solve the problem of the learners whose classes have been suspended by negotiating with the local governments. Batangas alone has more than 120 schools, 168 schools for the entire region, including six private schools,” she said.
According to the Department of Education’s latest report, about 7,895 schools in 58 divisions with 7,228,468 learners have been affected by the Taal Volcano eruption.
Of the evacuees, 16,174 families or 70,413 persons are temporarily staying in 283 evacuation centers.
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