Legazpi City, Albay — Disaster management officials here have already sent a notice of fund depletion to the national government in anticipation of a prolonged stay of displaced families in evacuation centers after Mayon Volcano again showed increased activity like lava flow.
Dr. Cedric Daep, head of the Albay Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office (PDRRMO), said they have already forwarded the letter to the national government in order to expedite the downloading of funds from the national to the local government units.
Not enough – Army soldiers prepare relief goods at Guinobatan City for distribution to people in areas in Albay who were displaced by the continuous activity of Mount Mayon. Some officials are concerned that the relief funds may run out soon. (Ali Vicoy|Manila Bulletin)
“We have already sent the letter and we were told that the Office of Civil Defense has already made an advance notice about our financial situation to the NDRRMC (National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council),” Daep told The Manila Bulletin yesterday.
But Daep said they also made an advanced notice even that what the local government units (LGUs) could shoulder is only the 10-day period of the evacuation.
The evacuation started the night of January 13 and the LGUs have started funding the relief items the following day.
Based on the data, the Provincial Government of Albay has been spending P200 a day for every family. There are currently more than 7,000 families still staying in more than 30 evacuation centers in Ligao City, Tabaco City, Guinobatan, Daraga, Sto. Domingo, Camalig, and Malilipot.
“We are actually spending more than P1.4 million a day just for the food of the evacuees. If the Mayon activities continue for weeks or even months, imagine the fund that we need just for the food,” said Daep.
The 10-day fund of the local government units comes from the savings from the Internal Revenue Allotments last year.
Once the notice of depletion is made, it is the time that the national government must come in to take over the funding on the needs of the evacuees.
Leni calls for aid
Meanwhile, Vice President Ma. Leonor “Leni” Robredo made a call yesterday for donations for relief efforts intended for her fellow Bicolanos forced to evacuate because of Mayon Volcano.
Robredo, who was born and raised in Bicol, appealed for help from Filipinos listening to her weekly radio program, “BISErbisyong Leni,” on RMN-dzXL 558.
“Dapat alalahanin din natin ‘yung hirap na pinagdadaanan ng apektado ngayon. Araw-araw dumadagdag ‘yung evacuees. Kasi tumitindi ‘yung danger zones, kaya talagang my forced evacuation (Let us remember the hardships of the affected individuals have been going through. Everyday there are more evacuees. Because of the worsening activity in danger zones so there is forced evacuation),” she said.
Alert Level 3 remains in effect over Mayon Volcano as it continues to be in a high level of unrest.
Almost 40,000 individuals had been displaced since January 18. The number had been reduced to 27,643 evacuees, who are temporarily staying in classrooms that served as evacuation sites in Albay.
Aside from the food items, other basic needs include medicine, repairs of toilets and other basic items for shelter.
“This is also the time that other non-government agencies such as Red Cross would come in to help,” said Daep.
Compared with past eruptions when foreign aid poured in for the evacuees, there has not been that kind of help coming in yet.
The reason, according to Daep, is that they have not formally asked for assistance from their usual donors.
“We told them that we can still shoulder the expenses,” said Daep.
But he said they expect that the assistance would come in the coming days, especially that they have already sent a notice of fund depletion.
As of yesterday, he said at least two foreign aid groups have already coordinated with them to check on the needs of the evacuees.
“We have not formally asked for their help because we told them that we have funds for 10 days. But once we made the request, I am sure that they will be there to help,” said Daep.
Right now, he said the regional office of the Department of Social Works and Development has already prepositioned food items for the evacuees. (With a report from Raymund F. Antonio)