While the situation at Taal Volcano, which began erupting two Sundays ago, remains rather stable despite the ongoing venting and the forecast warnings of an upcoming violent and explosive eruption. Still, the damage has been done in seeing farmland, vegetation and communities being blanketed in thick volcanic ash, residents displaced from their homes and at risk of health problems from airborne particles. While the government, public and private sectors do their best in getting relief to the evacuees, the Congress of the Philippines has decided to take steps towards being closer to the disaster area and voices of the displaced.
Inquirer.net reports that the Philippine House of Representatives opened their Wednesday, January 22 session at the Batangas City Convention Center, just to the south of Taal Lake and the same-named complex volcano island that has caused a lot of trouble in Batangas and neighboring provinces with its ongoing eruption period. The decision to move the House session to Batangas was voted on by the lawmakers and spearheaded by Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano, who also opened the business of the day. The venue was also convenient as the Batangas City Convention Center was not far from a primary evacuation center of victims of the Taal eruption.
During deliberations earlier this week, Speaker Cayetano was quick to assure that the House holding session in Batangas which is under a state of calamity, was no publicity stunt that would disrupt evacuation and relief operations in the area. Rather, it is a symbolic gesture that will also put the legislators within easy reach of the victims of Taal, who might have petitions on how best to weather the grave disaster that has befallen them.
At present, Taal Volcano is still under Alert Level 4 of the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (PHIVOLCS) which denotes the possibility of a violent eruption with pyrotechnics and lava, anytime within several days or weeks. Already leaders of the House of Representatives are in solidarity with President Rodrigo Duterte and his proposal that a supplemental P30-billion budget be expedited as additional calamity funding to address the Taal eruption.
“We promise that the Congress will be relevant, responsive and reliable and the session is the highest form of congregation,” remarked Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano upon opening of the House session in Batangas City this Wednesday morning. “The plenary is supreme in Congress.”
Image courtesy of GMA News