Pangilinan backs permanent resettlement for Bulusan folk

November 29, 2010

Mario B. Casayuran
Manila Bulletin
November 29, 2010

MANILA, Philippines – Senator Francis “Kiko” Pangilinan threw Monday his full support behind the call of Sorsogon provincial officials to provide a permanent relocation site for villages affected by the restive Mt. Bulusan Volcano which has been spewing ash and mud flows at towns around its base since last November 6.

This came after Pangilinan, chairman of the Senate Agriculture and Food Committee, visited over the weekend several Sorsogon towns around the volcano to survey first hand the effects of Mt. Bulusan’s recent ash explosions.

He said that he is allocating part of his Poverty Development Alleviation Fund (PDAF) or simply tagged as pork barrel to the Sorsogon provincial government for immediate relief but left it to the provincial government to decide when is the best time to release the bulk of it.

The proposed permanent relocation site for affected villages could be patterned after the Gawad Kalinga villages, he said.

After the survey, Pangilinan reiterated calls for the villagers to heed the advise of local government unit (LGU) officials to leave their properties if their lives are threatened as nothing could be more important than their safety.

Pangilinan said he went to barangay Cogon in Irosin town where he saw massive boulders that have been washed down  from the slopes clogging the Cadacan River.

In some areas, lahar deposits about 10 feet high are blocking the river channel.

The former Senate Majority leader also supported the need to dredge these areas.

Sorsogon Gov. Raul Lee and Irosin Mayor Eduardo Ong accompanied the senator during the ocular inspection.

Although damage to crops is still minimal, provincial disaster officials expressed fears that rains and ensuing lahar flows could still pose a threat.

Ed Laguerta, Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs) provincial volcanologist, reported that there is over 400,000 cubic meters of lahar deposited around the slopes of Bulusan.

Since Bulusan erupted last November 6, Phivolcs has maintained the alert level No. 1.

Families living around the four-kilometer permanent danger zone have been asked by local authorities to evacuate but some farmers refused to leave or have been going back and forth to tend their farm lots.

The Philippines is part of the Pacific Ring of Fire, the group of countries around the Pacific Ocean frequented by volcanic eruptions and earthquakes and where 75 percent of the world’s active volcanoes are found.

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