Duterte gives P20M for relief efforts in Albay

PRESIDENT Rodrigo Duterte on Monday, January 29, handed over P20 million to the local officials of Albay province to help address the needs of thousands of families displaced by the continued eruptions of Mayon Volcano.

Duterte also pledged to give an additional P50 million by Tuesday, January 30, during a briefing in Albay.

The President also announced that the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office, through board member Sandra Cam who joined the briefing, also granted some P5 million.

"I'll give you initially today (around) P20 million. And I will augment it tomorrow by sending about P50 [million] for the operation. It's for everything. (Spend it for) food. And I'm interested in the hygiene and sanitation of the place," Duterte said.

"(The PCSO also donated P5 million). So you have P25 (million) initially. Spend it the way you want. That's for the people. (Allocate the money for the displaced residents') food. Sanitation, I said, is really important. We will remedy the situation," he added.

Alert Level 4 remains hoisted over Mayon Volcano, which means a hazardous eruption is imminent.

Earlier Monday, the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs) urged the public to avoid entering the eight-kilometer-radius danger zone.

Phivolcs also cautioned against possible pryoclastic density currents, lahar flows and sediment-laden streamflows.

As of January 28, the Department of Social Welfare and Development said around 22,885 families or 89,109 individuals are affected by the volcano's eruption.

Some 18,255 families or 69, 290 are staying temporarily in 74 evacuation centers while 2,822 families or 11,946 are staying outside evacuation centers.

The cost of damage to agriculture in Albay province because of Mayon Volcano's restive state was estimated at P189.434 million as of January 27.

Duterte said the Department of Agriculture, headed by Secretary Emmanuel Piñol, will be allotting P100 million for the rehabilitation of the agricultural sector in the province.

"Secretary Piñol is offering (money). He has P100 million," the President said. "There's an immediate and urgent need to spend for agricultural aspect in this crisis."

The President vowed that the government would ensure the immediate recovery of the affected residents.

He also gave assurance that he would provide additional monetary assistance, if his donations are not enough.

"If there's a short of the services that we are expected to do, let me know because we will immediately respond. We will always have some money for you," Duterte said. (Ruth Abbey Gita/SunStar Philippines)
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