President Rodrigo Duterte has approved the proposal to grant around 5,448 housing units to families residing within the seven-kilometer radius danger zone near the restive Taal Volcano, MalacaAang said on Wednesday.
Duterte gave his nod during the 46th Cabinet meeting held at MalacaAan Palace on Tuesday night, Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said in a statement.
The President's approval came following the recommendation of House Settlements Secretary Eduardo del Rosario, as part of the government's plan to permanently relocate the households living within Taal Volcano's danger zone.
Panelo said a total of 5,448 housing units in Batangas, Laguna, Cavite, and Quezon provinces that were initially allotted for military and police personnel will instead be used to house families that will be forced to leave their homes for good.
Secretary Del Rosario discussed the proposed permanent shelter sites for internally displaced families affected by the eruption of Taal Volcano. According to him, 5,000-6,000 households stand to be affected by the evacuation from a radius of 7 kilometers from the volcano, with the island of Taal itself housing 2,000 families, Panelo said.
He added that the President approved the request of the Department of Human Settlements and Urban Development to offer the housing units as a grant to the displaced families instead and commended the act of generosity.
Taal, the second most active volcano in the country, emitted clouds of thick ash and steam on January 12, forcing more than 300,000 individuals to leave their homes.
On January 20, the President asked Congress to fast-track the passage of the PHP30-billion supplemental budget to aid displaced residents living near Taal Volcano.
Many already returned to their respective residences after the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs) on January 26 lowered Taal Volcano's status from Alert Level 4 to 3.
In its 8 a.m. bulletin issued Wednesday, Phivolcs reported that Taal Volcano emitted steam-laden plumes that are 50 to 100 meters tall.
Phivolcs also recorded a total of 156 volcanic earthquakes, signifying magmatic activity beneath Taal edifice that could lead to eruptive activity at the main crater.
The agency reiterated its recommendation to impose a strict prohibition of entry into the Taal Volcano Island, as well as into areas over Taal Lake and those within a seven-kilometer radius from the main crater.
It also advised local government units to assess areas outside the seven-kilometer radius for damages and road accessibilities and strengthen preparedness, contingency, and communication measures, in case of another eruption.
Source: Philippines News Agency