Tzu Chi Foundation continues to provide relief and much needed supplies to evacuees in the affected areas of the Taal Volcano region.
In the aftermath of the Taal Volcano eruption on January 12, and the subsequent aftershocks, an estimated 459,300 people were located within the 14Km danger zone in the Province of Batangas. The National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) reported that a total of 96,061 people were affected with 70,413 taking refuge in evacuation centers throughout the province. As a result, the Tzu Chi Foundation has been running relief operations to help the evacuees.
One of these centers, is the interim AFP-PNP Housing village in Barangay Talaibon, Ibaan, Batangas. It was originally intended for AFP-PNP personnel but is now the temporary dwelling of 332 displaced families who have lost their homes in Barangay Alas-as and Barangay Puting Bato in San Nicolas. Dex Martinez, one of the Taal Volcano evacuees from San Nicolas has been living at the Ibaan evacuation center with his wife and son for over a month.
“We are not sure for how long we will be there since there has still been no word as to whether we will be able to return to our homes” he said. For now, Mr. Martinez explained that in the interim, “the housing village is suitable for me and my family as we have water, electricity and a bathroom”. In addition, apart from clothing and other every day needs, the Tzu Chi Foundation returned on February 16 to provide the displaced families with kitchen supplies including gas stoves, utensils, pots & pans and drawer storage units, among other provisions, to help with daily necessities and replace what was lost.
In light of the situation of the displaced families, Mayor Lester De Sagun has said that “we are still hoping to bring the evacuees back to San Nicolas, considering their homes and livelihood are there”. In an interview, Mayor De Sagun shared that he plans to buy a large plot of land for housing in San Nicolas where the evacuees could be relocated. The concern, however, remains that they will still be within the 14Km radius danger zone of the volcano and they are still waiting for approval from the government.
In the meantime, the government has been offering evacuees jobs in construction work, driving and other related jobs to help them earn a living until they can return to their homes. Despite this, some are still hesitant because the majority are either farmers or fishermen and still prefer going back to their livelihood in San Nicolas.