Senator Win Gatchalian urges the Department of Education (DepEd) to have emergency response plans in place for the safety of students and schools, especially in the most vulnerable areas, should Taal Volcano display an ‘explosive eruption.’
“Hindi pa lumilipas ang pinakamalalang maaaring mangyari sa pag-alboroto ng Bulkang Taal, kaya dapat nating paghandaan ang maaaring maging epekto ng isang malaking pagsabog,” said Gatchalian, Chairman of the Senate Committee on Basic Education, Arts and Culture.
He added, “kung sakaling magkaroon ng malaking pagsabog at lumala ang pag-ulan ng abo, mahalagang may plano tayo kung paano natin mabilis na malilinis ang mga paaralan upang mapangalagaan ang kalusugan ng mga guro at mag-aaral lalo na kapag muling nagbukas na ang klase.”
Alert level 4 remains over Taal volcano, which means that a hazardous explosive eruption is imminent within hours to days. The activity in volcano resulted in an ash fall that reached Calabarzon, Metro Manila, and parts of Southern Luzon. In a health advisory, the Department of Health (DOH) warned that the ash fall could trigger eye, nose, and throat irritations, breathing problems, and coughing among others.
A PHIVOLCS bulletin also reported that more than 200 volcanic earthquakes were recorded in Taal region. There are high risks of pyroclastic density currents and volcanic tsunami within the 14-kilometer radius from the Taal Volcano’s main crater.
In an Education Cluster Report, DepEd said that almost 6 million learners in 46 divisions and more than 5,300 schools have been affected by the eruption.
Gatchalian also said that schools should closely coordinate with their local governments as they tend to be the first responders in times of calamity. If necessary, the lawmaker added that DepEd should quickly tap into its P2.1 billion quick response fund (QRF) to address damages to schools.
“Sa panahon ng mga sakuna, mahalaga ang papel ng ating kahandaan upang manatiling ligtas ang ating mga mag-aaral at hindi ma-antala ng matagal ang pagkatuto nila,” Gatchalian concluded.