DENR finds violations in 14 quarry operations in Albay

Marje Pelayo   •   November 23, 2020   •   257

MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) has found violations in 14 quarry operations in the province of Albay. 

This prompted the Department to suspend the operations of the said quarry sites located at the foot of Mount Mayon.

Among the notable violations is operating beyond the authorized area, according to DENR Undersecretary Jonas Leones.

“Ang paglabag na nakita namin doon ay iyong nag-exceed doon sa kanilang allowable area at iyong mga iba naman mga expired permits (We found some violations such as exceeding beyond the allowable area while some still operate despite expired permit),” Leones said.

The official noted that the companies operating the quarry sites may face administrative cases and a fine of P50,000 per violation.

It is also possible that they may be permanently closed if proven to have a history of successive violations. 

Leones said these quarrying operations could have contributed to the damaging lahar flow in San Francisco, Guinobatan in Albay during the onslaught of Super Typhoon Rolly.

Hundreds of houses and properties were seen covered with lahar after the typhoon.

Leones stressed that affected residents may sue the companies for compensation for the damage they have caused. 

Around 100 quarry operations are now under investigation by the DENR and those that have been cleared of violations will be allowed to resume operation, Leones said.

Meanwhile, the Triple B — Build, Back, Better— Task Force formed by President Rodrigo Duterte is currently conducting post-typhoon assessment in areas damaged by the recent calamities.

The task force formed through Executive Order 120 is composed of different agencies led by Environment Secretary Roy Cimatu.

Leones said the task force will meet on Friday (November 27) to discuss recommendations on how to rehabilitate the typhoon-ravaged areas specifically Cagayan, Isabela, Bicol and Marikina. MNP (with reports from Rey Pelayo)

SSS to provide calamity assistance to members, pensioners in typhoon-hit areas

Maris Federez   •   November 16, 2020

MANILA, Philippines — The Social Security System (SSS) on Sunday announced that it will open an assistance package for its members and pensioners in areas declared by the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) as under a state of calamity due to Super Typhoon Rolly, Typhoon Quinta, and Typhoon Ulysses.

On its Facebook post, the SSS said the assistance program will be open on 27 November 2020.

The assistance package will include the Calamity Loan Assistance Program (CLAP), Three-month Advance Pension for SS and Employees’ Compensation pensioners, and the Direct House Repair and Improvement Loan. 

“Applications for CLAP and the Three-month Advance Pension will be open from 27 November 2020 until 26 February 2021. The Direct House Repair and Improvement Loan will be open for one year from the issuance of its corresponding circular,” the advisory added.

The SSS added that it will be coordinating with its media partners and shall utilize its Facebook page for the release of the complete guidelines for the said programs.

The SSS concluded that it “commiserates with everyone who was affected by the said typhoons. It hopes that through the assistance package and its regular benefit programs, it may help its members and pensioners during these difficult times.” —/mbmf

NDRRMC prepares for rehabilitation efforts in typhoon-hit areas on limited budget

Marje Pelayo   •   November 11, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – The National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) has prepared the fund for the rehabilitation effort in areas devastated by recent tropical cyclones.

According to NDRRMC Executive Director Ricardo Jalad, the agency has an overall budget of P16-B for this year which the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) topped up with P5-B pesos.

The agency prioritized spendings on its response against the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic.

Jalad said they will make use of the remaining amount of P3.6-B to start the rehabilitation efforts in areas devastated by tropical cyclones Quinta and Rolly.

With the load of programs that the agency has on hand, Jalad hopes they would have an increase in budget for next year.

“Base doon sa National Expenditure Program may increase from 2020 level to 2021. May mga naririnig din tayo ng mga pronouncement ng mga lawmakers na baka dadagdagan pa iyon dahil nga sa epektong nakikita natin itong super typhoon Rolly [Based on the National Expenditure Program there is a planned increase from 2020 level to 2021. We also heard a pronouncement from lawmakers that they might add to it seeing the effects of the super typhoon Rolly],” the official said.

The NDRRMC chief said he was requesting an increase of their budget for 2021 but it was not approved to give way to other primary programs that the government has to prioritize.

Jalad said they have to defer the implementation of a number of projects until they have enough budget for them. 

Among these projects include the establishment of a number of training institutes across the country that would train rescue personnel.

In fact, a 10-hectare property is already being prepared for the project in Clark, Pampanga.

Despite the halt in the said program, Jalad said they are continuously conducting earthquake drills and other rescue training that can be administered online.

They also started conducting face to face training but in smaller groups as large gatherings remain prohibited.

The agency is also reaching out to communities by creating a first responder team to act in their respective areas.

Meanwhile, Jalad hopes the creation of a Department of Disaster Resilience will push through so that responses to emergencies and calamities will be quicker particularly the forced evacuation and relief operations.

“Dahil nga hindi na ito council ang itatawag natin kundi advisory (board) so ang [This will no longer be a Council but an Advisory Board so the] decision making is now with the Department of Disaster Resilience,” he said.

The national government has already sent relief and financial assistance to typhoon-hit areas especially in Bicol. 

The NDRRMC advised the public to maintain proper health protocols especially in evacuation centers to prevent COVID-19 transmission. MNP (with reports from Rey Pelayo)

300 families in Albay evacuated due to possible Ulysses-induced lahar flow

Aileen Cerrudo   •   November 11, 2020

MANILA, Philippines — Around 300 families were evacuated in Guinobatan, Albay due to possible lahar flow that may be triggered by Typhoon Ulysses.

Families from Purok 6 and 7 of Barangay San Francisco in Guinobatan, Albay are currently staying at Mauraro National High School. Barangay San Francisco is among the areas heavily devastated by the lahar flow caused by Typhoon Rolly.

They were previously evacuated to Marcial O. Rañola Memory School during Typhoon Rolly but had to transfer to a different evacuation center after the area was also affected by lahar.

Several of the residents have been staying in evacuation centers for two weeks. One of the evacuees, Joan Berco, said she prefers to stay somewhere safe.

“Inilikas kami dito para maiwasan namin iyong tubig, tapos marami pang disgrasya sa amin doon kapag nandun kami (We were evacuated here to avoid the water and there will be more threat if we stayed at home),” she said.

The local government unit (LGU) assured there are enough relief goods for the families staying in evacuation centers. Meanwhile, residents in Camalig, Albay were also evacuated to safer facilities. AAC (with reports from Allan Manansala)

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