Duterte to visit areas affected by Taal eruption

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, January 13) — President Rodrigo Duterte said Monday he will visit areas affected by Taal Volcano’s eruption on Tuesday.

Duterte, in his first public appearance since the volcano south of Metro Manila started spewing ash and lava on Sunday, told reporters that he will make rounds in the area on a helicopter.

Senator Christopher “Bong” Go, Duterte’s former aide who is still frequently seen by the President’s side, said the plan for now is to head to Batangas tomorrow.

He added that his doctor advised him against going to the areas affected by the eruption, which are now covered in a thick layer of ash. However, he seemed to make light of the health risks associated with inhaling volcanic ash.

“Kainin ko pa ‘yang ashfall na ‘yan. Pati Taal, ihian ko pa ‘yan, bwisit na ‘yan,” Duterte said.

[Translation: I can even eat that ash. And Taal, I’ll pee on that idiot.]

Duterte said all government resources have been brought to respond to the eruption of the volcano, its first since 1977.

“We have anticipated it and pati ‘yung mga Marines ko, ‘yung mga sundalo ko nandoon [my Marines and my soldiers are there.] And the resources, I said, are there. And ‘yung mga [the] forward supplies, they were carried over there 24 hours since it first exploded,” he said.

He also vowed to give residents affected by Taal Volcano financial assistance, but did not specify how much.

“Mayroon tayong pera. Kaya huwag nating ubusin sa corruption. It is not for your pocket, it is intended for the public,” he said.

[Translation: We have the money. So let’s not use it all up for corruption.]

Duterte only made mention of Taal when asked by reporters at the sidelines of his visit to the Philippine Marine Corps. There, he handed out ₱50,000 to soldiers who are celebrating their birthdays this month.

A total of 18,187 people are now in evacuation centers in Cavite and Batangas due to Taal Volcano’s unrest, according to the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council.

Increased volcanic activity in Taal has prompted the government to suspend classes and government work in Metro Manila, Calabarzon and Central Luzon on Monday. The provincial board of Batangas, where the volcano is located, has also declared a state of calamity.

CNN Philippines’ Ina Andolong and Pia Garcia contributed to this report.