Villanueva: Taal eruption could disrupt vaccine supply arrivals, economy
The government should brace for any impact brought about by Taal Volcano’s eruption as the unrest could trigger several events “from a NAIA closure that will delay vaccine shipments, to factories in the country’s manufacturing belt suspending work,” Senator Joel Villanueva said today.
Villanueva suggested that the government put on standby the P6.37 billion Quick Reaction Fund component of the so-called Calamity Fund in the 2021 national budget. That amount is distributed among 8 agencies in the DPWH, DepED, DOH, DILG, DA and DND.
“From a planning perspective, let’s assume the worst-case scenario, and be proactive in anticipating the needs of affected residents. Paghandaan na po natin ang mga kakailanganin ng ating mga kababayan sa Batangas at Southern Tagalog region, lalo na po sa mga residenteng nasa paligid ng danger zones,” said Villanueva, chair of the Senate labor committee. “Ihanda na po natin ang ayuda para sa mga posibleng madi-displace mula sa kanilang mga tahanan.”
He said the January 12, 2020 eruption of Taal Volcano was a preview on how “the world’s smallest active volcano can cause big damage in places beyond its immediate danger zone.”
The ashfall during that eruption, he added, cancelled 643 flights at NAIA and Clark airport in Pampanga, affecting more than 100,000 passengers.
“If that happens again, heaven forbid, what’s our Plan B for flights carrying imported vaccines? And how will we dispatch vaccines to provinces because we’re using Manila as a base,” he said.
“From a planning perspective, let’s assume the worst-case scenario, and be proactive in anticipating the needs of affected residents. Paghandaan na po natin ang mga kakailanganin ng ating mga kababayan sa Batangas at Southern Tagalog region, lalo na po sa mga residenteng nasa paligid ng danger zones.”
He also warned of an economic fallout, “and it comes at a time when factories are restarting their operations.”
Within the 50-kilometer radius of the volcano lies the biggest concentration of factories, he said, referring to economic zones in the Batangas, Laguna and Cavite areas.
Tourism and services will also be affected as Tagaytay and other areas in Cavite and Batangas are Metro Manila’s “nearest rest and recreation place.”
“Yung ashfall ng Taal nakakapuwing talaga yan: sa ekonomiya, sa transportasyon, at sa negosyo ng mga lugar na medyo may kalayuan na,” Villanueva said.
But our immediate concern should be the people of Batangas and Cavite living near the volcano, in areas designated by the government as danger zones, the senator said.
The last time Taal erupted, it displaced close to 550,000 people.
He said local governments who are having a hard time making ends meet during the pandemic do not have the resources to confront “a double whammy, a double V – virus and volcano.”