President Rodrigo Duterte has declared a state of calamity in Calabarzon due to the effects of the eruption of Taal Volcano in January.
The state of calamity covers the provinces of Cavite, Laguna, Batangas, Rizal and Quezon and will last for one year unless sooner lifted, according to Proclamation 906, signed by Duterte on February 21.
Duterte said the declaration will hasten rescue, relief and rehabilitation efforts of the government and the private sector, including any international humanitarian assistance, as well as control the prices of basic goods and commodities in the affected areas.
He directed all departments and concerned agencies to coordinate with and augment the basic facilities and services of affected localities.
Law enforcement agencies, with the support of the military, were also directed to undertake necessary measures to ensure peace and order in affected areas.
Speaking to reporters on Thursday, presidential spokesperson Salvador Panelo denied that the declaration of a state of calamity was too late.
“There can never be too late in any declaration with respect to calamities. ‘Pag may calamity siyempre ang tagal niyan, you cannot be late,” he said.
On January 20, Duterte asked Congress to pass a P30-billion supplemental budget that will fund the rehabilitation of communities devastated by the eruption of Taal, the Philippines' second most active volcano.
Congressmen heeded the President’s call with lawmakers from Batangas province filing a bill in connection with the proposed supplemental budget.
The alert status in Taal Volcano has been lowered by PHIVOLCS almost two weeks ago after parameters showed decreased unrest since its initial eruption on January 12. This allowed several residents in Batangas to return to their homes. — RSJ/BM, GMA News