The United States government will be providing P5.1 million in relief assistance to the communities affected by the Taal Volcano’s continuing activity, the U.S. Embassy in Manila said this week.
The announcement was made by U.S. Ambassador to the Philippines Sung Kim during a visit to two evacuation centers in Nasugbu and Calatagan in Batangas on Wednesday, January 22.
“I’m inspired by the strength and resilience of these families who faced such devastation and loss following the volcanic eruption,” Kim said.
“As friends, partners, and allies to the Philippines, we will continue to support our Philippine government counterparts as they work to address the needs of those communities most affected by the eruption,” he added.
Through the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), the American government will partner with World Vision to provide relief supplies including soap, sleeping mats and blankets to over 7,500 people sheltered at the Nasugbu West Central School evacuation centers.
The assistance complements existing support to transport emergency supplies to evacuees, provide technical assistance to manage evacuation centers as well as lend specialized equipment and analytic support to monitor the Taal Volcano, according to the U.S. Embassy.
In Calatagan, Kim joined the Philippines Disaster Resilience Foundation (PDRF) partners in distributing supplies to the displaced Batangueños.
He also expressed his thanks to the PDRF companies for assisting the evacuees.
“I have been very encouraged to see the private sector – American companies alongside Philippine companies – mobilize to address urgent needs of communities following the Taal volcanic eruption,” Kim said.
PDRF is a major private sector vehicle and coordinator for disaster management in the country.
The Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) recently launched Task Force Taal “Libreng Tawag” (Free Call) to help evacuees contact their families.
According to OWWA Deputy Administrator Josefino Torres, the communication facility is the welfare agency’s share of assistance and care to the Batangueños displaced by Taal volcano’s unrest.
He also said that domestic and international calls will be available under the program for those sheltered in various evacuation centers in Cavite and Batangas.
“The Libreng Tawag is open to all the evacuees, OFW (overseas Filipino worker) or not, so they can contact their families, loved ones, or whoever they would like to reach out to regarding their current situation,” he said in a statement.
The OWWA has opened four lines, two of which will be used for international calls.
In its pilot run on Monday, January 20, OWWA brought two generator sets to the Alfonso Elementary School in Lemery, Batangas, where close to 2,000 evacuees are staying, to power up the mobile communication hub initially comprising four mobile phones and a charging station.
The OWWA is also providing free WiFi service for evacuees whose contacts can only be reached through social media and email. (AJPress)