Sotto pushes for long-term rehab plan for Batangas after Taal volcano eruption

Robie de Guzman   •   January 28, 2020   •   228

MANILA, Philippines – Senator Vicente Sotto III is urging his fellow lawmakers and policy-makers to start drawing up a comprehensive long-term plan for the rehabilitation of the province of Batangas after the eruption of Taal Volcano.

In a statement, Sotto said that while the government had started implementing short-term strategies to address the immediate needs of residents affected by the residents, these would not be enough to help the province get back on its feet again.

“We have to start pooling our ideas to rehabilitate Batangas. We need permanent solutions to resolve post-disaster concerns and help Batangueños recover,” he said.

The senator said the government should be ready to implement rehabilitation programs once Taal Volcano quiets down, and experts declare that the threat of a hazardous eruption is 100 percent over.

He also highlighted the need to address issues on housing, infrastructure, and livelihood, which he stressed will be the top three concerns of the provincial government.

Sotto said the long-term rehabilitation plans should include the provision of temporary and permanent homes to eruption-hit families, repair of roads, buildings and other infrastructures; and small and medium enterprise opportunities, among others.

“Let us not forget the hard lessons we have learned from the rehabilitation of Tacloban and Marawi. We did not have ready programs to help those who were affected by these tragedies, to the chagrin of the residents who relied heavily on the government to help them get back on their feet again,” Sotto said.

The Senate President noted that hundreds of thousands of families living in towns surrounding the Taal Volcano lost their homes and livelihood after thick layers of ashes belched by the volcano on January 12 blanketed their houses.

Their animals and pets were also killed, while volcanic quakes and fissures damaged roads and bridges in several towns.

Businesses have also remained closed, adversely impacting the sources of income of workers.

The Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs) on Sunday, January 26 lowered Taal Volcano’s alert level, which means a decreased tendency towards hazardous eruption.

However, Phivolcs said that “this should not be interpreted that the unrest has ceased or that the threat of a hazardous eruption has disappeared.”

The agency explained it downgraded the alert status following a decline in volcanic earthquakes, slower ground deformation, and weak steam and gas emission at Taal’s main crater.

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)

Sotto: No need for Congress to pass law for medical marijuana

Robie de Guzman   •   February 18, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – Senate President Vicente Sotto III on Tuesday reiterated that there is no need for Congress to waste efforts legislating a law that will allow the use of marijuana for medical purposes.

Sotto issued the statement after the Dangerous Drugs Board (DDB) said that it recently approved “in principle” a resolution authorizing the use of cannabidiol (CBD) for alleviating severe forms of epilepsy.

The Senate President said he will not raise any objection to DDB’s announcement but his support will border on the assumption that the use of such “is in medicine form and conforms with the DDB-PDEA (Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency) guidelines and permit.”

“The DDB move proves the law being proposed in the HOR is unnecessary. There are more important proposed legislations that our honorable counterparts at the HOR should spend their time on,” Sotto said.

“I hope they give priority to measures that will have more impact on the most number of our countrymen,” he added.

The House of Representatives in January approved on third and final reading a measure seeking to legalize and regulate medical marijuana in treating chronic or debilitating medical conditions. The bill also proposes the establishment of Medical Cannabis Compassionate Centers which will be authorized to supply, sell, and dispense cannabis to qualified patients through S3-licensed pharmacists.

According to Sotto, the use of cannabis for medical purposes is already authorized under the country’s Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act, which he noted sets down the policy that “the government shall aim to achieve a balance in the national drug control program so that people with legitimate medical needs are not prevented from being treated with adequate amounts of appropriate medications, which include the use of dangerous drugs.”

He pointed out that the policy is implemented through a circular issued by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) providing the guidelines for the issuance of a “compassionate special permit.”

DDB chairman Catalino Cuy earlier clarified there is no need for a separate medical marijuana law since mechanisms already exist to allow the use of dangerous drug compounds in medicine form.

Cuy also said that cultivation and production of marijuana for medical or for any other purposes is still illegal in the country under Republic Act 9165.

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