Kiko-Mt. Bulusan alerts the government
By Jason de Asis
SENATE OFFICE, Manila, November 28, 2010-Senator Francis “Kiko” Pangilinan, senate chair of the committee on agriculture and food visited several towns around the restive Mt. Bulusan volcano to personally survey the effects of Mt. Bulusan’s recent ash explosions.
Pangilinan saw massive boulders that have been washed down from slopes of the volcano clogging the Cadacan River of Barangay Cogon, Irosin where in some areas the lahar deposits are about 10-feet high, blocking the river channel.
Pangilinan, Sorsogon Governor Raul Lee and Mayor Eduardo Ong of Irosin observed the need to dredge these areas while the provincial disaster officials assessed that the damage is still minimal to crops but fears rains and ensuing lahar flows can still pose a threat.
Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs) provincial volcanologist, Ed Laguerta, reported that there is over 400,000 cubic meters of lahar deposit around the slopes of Bulusan, adding that Mt. Bulusan started erupting on November 6, 2010 and maintained alert level number 1.
Families living around the 4-km permanent danger zone have been asked to evacuate by local authorities, but some farmers refused to leave, or have been going back and forth to tend to their farms wherein the Senator urged the villagers to heed the advises of the LGUs to leave their properties if their lives are threatened as nothing could be more important than their safety.
"I understand the situation of the local farmers who are going to and fro near the volcano because they have to ensure the safety of their source of livelihoods and cultivating their farms,” Pangilinan explained, but money could not be exchanged for their lives.
The Philippines is part of the Pacific Ring of Fire, the group of countries around the Pacific Ocean frequented by volcanic eruptions and earthquakes where 75% of the world's active volcanoes are found.
"If only the farmers have crop protections and insurance then their plights could be resolved,” he said.
Pangilinan listened to the farmers concerns in the recent meetings with farmers led by Mayor Jimmy Fragata of Juban. Initial assessment of damage showed amounting to P8 million barely three weeks into Bulusan’s recent activity wherein Mayor Fragata fears the continuing ashfall and lahar flows can further extend the damages.
Back to Pangilinan, he expressed his support for the call of the provincial government to provide a permanent relocation site for affected villages, similar to the Gawad Kalinga villages and allocated his PDAF to the provincial government for immediate relief. The senator left to the provincial government to decide what and when is the best time to release the bulk of the relief.
Pangilinan said we cannot control natural calamities but we can provide measures to ensure that there is minimal damage to our food supply and lessening the impact on local farmers' livelihood.
“We can learn valuable lessons from Mount Bulusan and its surrounding affected areas. We should all start working together, the national and local governments must enjoin communities to participate in formulating solutions to lessen the impact of natural disasters to our food supply," Pangilinan said. (Jason de Asis)
In : SENATE BEAT