House urged to probe govt’s alleged delayed warning on Taal eruption

Aileen Cerrudo   •   January 16, 2020   •   584

A lawmaker has urged the House of Representatives to investigate the government’s alleged delayed warning on the Taal eruption.

Cavite 4th District Rep. Elpidio Barzaga Jr. said there were “no news bulletins or SMS alerts” from the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs) and other government agencies about the heightened activity in Taal Volcano.

“Due to lack of information, in the afternoon of the same day, while Taal Volcano is already manifesting increased volcanic activity, people still traveled towards it, while those who were already near Taal Volcano were shocked to see the smoke spewing from it and had to immediately flee under the dangers of ashfall,” he said.

Barzaga filed House Resolution (HR) No. 643 on Monday (January 13) and was released to the media on Tuesday (January 14).

However, Phivolcs reiterated there was no delay in the warning on the Taal eruption

During a press conference, Volcano Monitoring and Eruption Prediction Division chief, Mariton Bornas said, “Those on the island were already relaying to us their observations.”

“They were given advice in case they needed to evacuate,” she added.

Phivolcs Director Renato Solidum said “there are 6,000 people on the island. Nobody was injured, no one died.”

“It’s amazing. We should thank God nothing happened,” he said.

Malacañang said it is within the powers of Congress if they will approve the resolution or not.

Meanwhile, President Rodrigo Duterte previously said he is pleased with the performance of government agencies including the performance of Phivolcs Officer-in-Charge and Science and Technology Secretary Renato Solidum.

“I am really very pleased, very happy that all agencies are here on hand and trying their best to help the community,” he said.—AAC (with reports from Rosalie Coz)

House panel asks NTC to grant provisional authority to ABS-CBN

Robie de Guzman   •   February 27, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – The House of Representatives has formally asked the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) to issue a provisional authority to allow broadcast network ABS-CBN to continue operating even after the expiration of its franchise in May.

In a letter signed by House Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano and House Committee on Legislative Franchises chairman Franz Alvarez, the House panel enjoined the NTC to grant ABS-CBN a provisional permit to operate effective from May 4, 2020 until such time that the Congress has made a decision on its application.

The House leaders informed the agency that the panel has started deliberating on the network’s application for franchise renewal, noting instruction to all interested parties to submit their position papers for or against the application within 60 days from February 24.

They stressed that the House of Representatives has the exclusive original jurisdiction and authority to act on franchise applications.

“As we have been saying from the start, since ABS-CBN will be allowed to continue its broadcast while we are hearing their renewal, there is no urgency that would justify a hasty proceeding. We want to be sure that this matter is given the importance it deserves,” Cayetano said in a statement.

Cayetano also reiterated his earlier stand that Congress will prioritize more urgent measures, including the rehabilitation of Batangas following Taal Volcano eruption, the prevention of the spread of the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19), the creation of the Departments of Overseas Filipino Workers and Disaster Resilience, as well as several revenue measures being pushed by the Duterte administration that will help bring in millions of new jobs.

There are 12 bills seeking to renew ABS-CBN’s franchise that remain pending before the Committee on Legislative Franchises. A proposal for a concurrent resolution has also been filed in the Senate seeking the issuance of a provisional permit for ABS-CBN.

In the same letter, the House also asked the NTC to grant ABS-CBN Corporation’s subsidiaries and affiliates, whose franchise applications are pending deliberation with the House Committee on Legislative Franchises, the same provisional authority.

The said subsidiaries and affiliates are ABS-CBN Convergence, Inc., Sky Cable Corporation, and Amcara Broadcasting Network, Inc.

They likewise urged the NTC to include in the respective provisional authorities “terms and conditions that the agency deems appropriate to protect public interest consistent with applicable laws, rules, and regulations.”

The House panel also confirmed that the ABS-CBN franchise will expire on May 4, and not on March 30 as widely reported earlier “because RA (Republic Act) 7966 stipulates that the franchise has become effective 15 days from the date of its publication, which was April 19,1995.”

The letter, dated February 26, was addressed to NTC Commissioner Gamaliel Cordoba.

UNTV Cup players to join Wish Olympics

UNTV News   •   February 21, 2020

Julius Casaysayan of Agriculture Food Masters

MANILA, Philippines — Players from UNTV Cup – the Liga of Public Servants – are set to join the Wish Olympics, a charity sports and entertainment event for the benefit of the victims of the Taal Volcano eruption.

Among the players are PNP Responders’ Mariano “Neil Perez” Flormata Jr. and Anton Tolentino, Julius Casaysayan of Agriculture Food Masters, Rod William Vasallo of PITC Global Traders and Carlo Gonzalez of GSIS Furies.

PBA Legends and UNTV Cup Commissioners Atoy Co and Ed Cordero, as well as PBA Legends Allan Caidic, Johnny Abarrientos, Jayjay Helterbrand, Chris Calaguio, and Willie Miller, will also be gracing the event and extend their support.

Spearheaded by Wish 107.5 innovator and public service advocate, Kuya Daniel Razon, Wish Olympics will be held on February 23, 2020, at Smart-Araneta Coliseum.

Rod William Vasallo of PITC Global Traders

It is aimed at extending more charity works to the people of Batangas, Cavite, and Laguna who have been severely affected by the explosion of the Taal Volcano.

Since the first week of the calamity, UNTV and the Members Church of God International, together with local and national government agencies have been carrying out medical missions and relief efforts for the victims.

Razon said he realizes the enormity of the eruption’s aftermath and that it will take months before the evacuees could carry on again with their normal lives.

This, he said, prompted him to think of ways to better extend assistance to the victims, and such is by way of the said sports and entertainment event.

PNP Responders’ Mariano “Neil Perez” Flormata Jr.

It will be participated in by artists like Morisette, Imago, Clara Benin, Jayda, The Juans, The Wishfuls, Rhea Basco, Mark Herras, JayR, Rayver Cruz, Ejay Falcon, Young JV, Jordan Herrera, Adrian Alandy, James Blanco, Albie Casino, Gerhard Acao and Axel Torres.

Professional volleyball players and TV/movie personalities such as Gretchen Ho, Kathy Bersola, Claudia Barretto, Gwen Zamora, Roma Joy Doromal, Che Sindayen, Jem Ferrer, Patcharee Saengmuang, Sandy Delos Santos, Aya Fernandez, Casey Da Silva, Ana Gopico, Amanda Villanueva, Nicole Tiamzon, Heather Guino-o, and Erika Alkuino will also team up for a friendly volleyball match.

PHIVOLCS may further downgrade alert level over Taal Volcano next week

Marje Pelayo   •   February 21, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – The Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (PHIVOLCS) reported only about 29 volcanic earthquakes around Taal Volcano in the past 24 hours, an indication that rocks underground are breaking.

A column of white steam also continues to form but only up to 50 meters in height.

It has been a week since PHIVOLCS downgraded alert level over the Taal volcano to level 2 from the previous level 3.

According to PHIVOLCS OIC Usec. Renato Solidum, they need to observe Taal volcano’s activities for one more week before they can decide whether to further downgrade the alert status based on the agency’s standard operating procedure.

“Basta tuloy-tuloy ang kanyang mga parametro na bumababa ang bilang pwede natin masabi na pwede nating ibaba ito sa alert level number one (If the parameters continue to reduce in number, we might lower the alert level to number one),” Solidum said.

Entry restrictions remain within the permanent danger zone in Taal Volcano Island.

Solidum said the local government unit needs to assess first if the former residential areas would be conducive for living.

PHIVOLCS does not recommended constructing houses on the volcano island due to the risk of having the ground break apart should the volcano proceed to erupt. MNP (with details from Rey Pelayo)

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