Robredo brings more aid on second visit to Taal eruption-hit areas

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Vice President Leni Robredo brings aid to Taal evacuees (FILE PHOTO)

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, January 21) — Vice President Leni Robredo returned to areas hit by Taal Volcano eruption to bring more aid, this time also leading the distribution of lugaw (rice porridge) and pandesal (bread rolls).

Robredo went to four evacuation centers in Batangas and Cavite, taking time to check on the situation and listen to the stories and concerns of families displaced by Taal Volcano eruption.

She also distributed 1,500 food packs, hygiene kits, sleeping mattresses and blankets to evacuees.

Speaking to reporters at the sidelines of her visit, Robredo defended government volcanologists for simply doing their job. She also said now is not the time to blame one another, but the time to find solutions how to better assist Taal victims.

She also backed the House of Representatives’ move to hold its plenary session on Wednesday in Batangas for lawmakers to see for themselves the situation on the ground.

Iba din talaga kapag bumababa on the ground, nakikita nila, kaysa nagmi-meeting lang,” she said.

[Translation: It’s different when you go on the ground, they will see it for themselves, rather than just talk about it in meetings.]

Robredo was recently the subject of a false claim reposted on Overseas Workers Welfare Administration Deputy Administrator Mocha Uson’s Facebook page. It claimed that Robredo only distributed five pieces of pandesal to Taal evacuees.

The Vice President hit back at Uson, questioning why the government is paying someone who spreads fake news.

Robredo is also frequently referred to by pro-government trolls on social media as “Leni Lugaw,” in an apparent reference to one of the ways her supporters raised money for her 2016 vice presidential campaign.

A total of 148,514 people are currently taking shelter in evacuation centers due to Taal’s eruption, according to the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council.

Health Secretary Francisco Duque III told CNN Philippines’ Balitaan that 3,734 people from evacuation centers have fallen sick due to ailments like acute respiratory infections, hypertension, diarrhea, flu-like illnesses, eye irritation and skin lesions.

Taal Volcano has been on Alert Level 4 since January 12, signaling an imminent explosive eruption within hours or days. Volcanic activity appeared to have weakened in the past days, but government volcanologists warn that a powerful eruption is still possible as there are signs that magma is still moving up from underneath the surface.

CNN Philippines’ Anjo Alimario and Xave Gregorio contributed to this report.