Duterte, Robredo make separate visits to Taal evacuees

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The two met up with local and national officials in separate conferences to discuss the situation in Taal. (FILE PHOTO)

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, January 14) — President Rodrigo Duterte and Vice President Leni Robredo on Tuesday paid separate visits to evacuation centers in Batangas where thousands of residents have remained in order to escape ashfall from Sunday's eruption of Taal Volcano.

Duterte spoke to evacuees taking refuge in Batangas City, assuring that the government will help them return to their normal lives.

"Nandito ako para tumulong sa mga tao na tinamaan nitong eruption at gagawin ko lahat — itong Batangas, Cavite, Laguna at ibang lugar pa — na matulungan namin para bumalik sa normal," Duterte told Batangas residents in a speech.

[Translation: I am here to help people hit by this eruption and I will do everything — for Batangas, Cavite, Laguna and other areas — so that we can help them go back to normalcy.]

The President added that he has extended P130 million worth of aid to those affected by the eruption.

On Sunday, Taal volcano belched ash in a stream-driven explosion. This brought ashfall to several nearby provinces, prompting more than 30,000 residents of Batangas and Cavite to flee their homes which are now mostly blanketed in ash. The ashfall reached areas as far north as Metro Manila and parts of Pampanga in the north. The volcano has since been spewing less ash but state volcanologists are not ruling out the possibility of a full blown eruption, keeping the warning at Alert Level 4. Level 4 means a "hazardous eruption" is possible within days or hours.

Before his visit to the evacuation center, Duterte met up with some members of his Cabinet at the Batangas Provincial Sports Complex to discuss the situation in Taal. He commended their quick response and suggested to build "strong" evacuation centers to cover areas such as Isabela, Samar, Leyte and Cagayan that often experience calamities.

Meanwhile, Robredo called for more donations during her visit to the centers. The Vice President gave away relief goods in Sta. Teresita, San Jose and Sto. Tomas towns and met with local officials who gave her an assessment of the situation. Speaking to reporters, she said evacuees have been receiving food and water but are in need of more hygiene kits, mats and portable toilets.

"Ang problem, ibang bahay gaya ng banyo, toiletries, 'yung higaan, 'yun ang mga kailangan as of now," she said. "'Yung tubig kailangan pero maraming nagdo-donate, 'yung kailangan pagkain pero maraming nagdo-donate."

[Translation: The problem is the need for other items such as toilets, toiletries, sleeping mats, that is they need as of now. Water and food are needed but a lot are coming in.]

READ: LIST: Where to send donations for Taal evacuees 

Robredo also asked local officials to start their inventory of the damage to assure evacuees that the government is already taking action

while they wait to return to their homes. She emphasized the importance of preparing an inventory early from her experience in the Bicol region which also has its own active volcano, the Mayon.

"'Yung mga pakiusap namin sa mga local government officials, simulan na 'yung inventory ng damage para hindi ganoon katagal 'yung process of documentation," she said.

[Translation: Our request to the local government officials is to start on the invetory of damage so the process of documentation will not take too long.]