Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) Officer-in-Charge Emmanuel Leyco said that relief operations will continue until such time that there are families staying in evacuation centers and may even extend up to their eventual return to their places of origin as part of the recovery phase.

DSWD continues to release food and non-food assistance to augment the resources of  local government units (LGUs) in responding to the needs of the evacuees.

To date, the DSWD has provided a total of P32,833,008.72 worth of augmentation assistance to affected LGUs. This includes 50,095 family food packs amounting to P20,007,818.00 and non-food items (malong, assorted toys, dignity kits, and blankets) worth P12,825,190.72 to the provincial government and to the affected cities and municipalities of Ligao, Tabaco, and Legazpi; and Guinobatan, Malilipot, Bacacay, Sto. Domingo, Daraga, and Camalig.

“We have been working very tightly with the provincial and local government units since Albay ordered the evacuation of evacuees, providing them with technical assistance in relation to camp coordination and management, safeguarding the welfare of the evacuees, and generation and consolidation of disaster response operations and monitoring reports daily,” OIC Leyco said.

“In fact, we already have a plan in place on how we will support the evacuees for 100 days and afterwards.  We have many program beneficiaries among those forced to evacuate because of Mayon’s volcanic activities, and we are prepared to continue supporting them even as we also work hard to address the immediate needs of the rest of the evacuees,” he added.

“We have not been remiss in our duty to immediately respond to the needs of the affected families. In fact, just three days after Albay ordered the evacuation of more than 8,000 families within the 7-kilometer extended danger zone, our Field Office V was quick to augment 5,500 family food packs  and 11,000 malongs upon the request of the Provincial Local Government Unit, while 500 food packs and 1,000 malongs were provided as initial augmentation to Legazpi City,” OIC Leyco explained.

Additional augmentation assistance from the DSWD was delivered to the affected cities and municipalities as more residents fled to evacuation centers after the danger zone was extended to more than nine-kilometer radius from the summit vent of Mayon Volcano.

Albay Governor Al Francis Bichara has acknowledged the assistance provided by the DSWD to the affected families.

Cash-for-Work for evacuees

Apart from the food and non-food items extended to the affected families, the DSWD will also implement its Cash-for-Work (CFW) program to provide the evacuees with cash assistance in exchange for community work while inside the temporary shelters.

On January 31, the Department has formally inked a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) with local chief executives of the affected cities and municipalities for the CFW program, which will be implemented for 10 days within the month of February.

The DSWD has allotted a total of P61,973,000 for the program’s implementation. The funds will be downloaded to the LGUs once they have completed all the documentary requirements, including the submission of the project proposals and the Sangguniang Bayan (SB) resolutions.

Provision of additional food support

DSWD FO V Regional Director Arnel Garcia said that the agency can provide food for 20,000 families for 100 days if the need arises.

He said that Field Office V has sufficient stock of food packs at the regional warehouse and is still expecting the arrival of 26,824 additional food packs from the DSWD Central Office. It has also requested another 1,000,000 family food packs worth P402,000,000 to address the food requirement of the affected families if the disaster operations continue for another three months. Non-food items like dignity kits, malong, plastic mats, and mosquito nets amounting to P206,808,768 are also expected to arrive at the field office anytime.

OIC Leyco also expressed gratitude to donors -both private and public-  for their donations which have supplemented government  resources.

Camp management in Guinobatan

Meanwhile, Presidential Adviser on Political Affairs Secretary Francis Tolentino from the Office of the Presidential Coordinator for Mayon Operations has ordered the DSWD to act as co-camp manager for the Municipality of Guinobatan.

In response, 48 additional DSWD personnel were deployed in 20 evacuation centers in the municipality starting today, February 5.

Last Friday, staff from the Field Office visited the temporary shelters in Guinobatan to check the actual situation of the displaced families in the town. The Field Office will also provide psychosocial intervention to the evacuees in coordination with the Department of Health.

Other response efforts

The DSWD, as the Vice Chair for the Response Cluster, has been regularly presiding the Response Cluster Meeting for Mayon through Dir. Garcia to discuss important issues and concerns of the evacuees.

DSWD FO V continuously assesses the situation of evacuation centers to ensure that they are compliant with zero sexual and gender-based violence environment. It also continues to assess the status of families in the temporary shelters, which number to 17,141 or 64,925 individuals, to ensure that their needs are met.

The DSWD’s satellite-based emergency telecommunication equipment is also on standby in case connection and communication lines are cut off.

The Department has also prepositioned tents at the Bicol Regional Training and Teaching Hospital for the possible influx of patients. ###