Albay, Bicol — DSWD Secretary Rex Gatchalian paid a visit to the evacuation centers in Albay province to take stock of the conditions of the evacuees who had fled from the 6-kilometer permanent danger zone. His first stop was at Anislag Elementary School in Daraga City where personnel from Field Office V handed out family food packs (FFPs) to the families. Later on, he headed towards the Albay capitol building to meet and greet Governor Edcel Greco Lagman. As more evacuees are expected due to the volcanic unrest in Mayon, Gatchalian requested additional warehouses and assured the governor that more food packs would be sent to ensure sufficient stockpile during the duration of the Mayon operations.

PHIVOLCS has advised that the volcanic unrest in Mayon continues to heighten and there is a possibility that the alert level may even be raised from the current Alert Level 3. The forced evacuation started last June 9, which led to the evacuation of 2,169 families, or over 7,000 individuals, who have now been temporarily sheltered in public school buildings and previously identified evacuation centers located in the municipality of Malilipot and the cities of Tabaco and Daraga.

Albay 2nd District Congressman Joey Salceda expressed his gratitude towards Secretary Gatchalian for his quick response and full support for the requested family food packs for Mayon evacuees. On May 8, Salceda requested food packs for the 45-day and 90-day evacuation scenarios for affected residents in the five municipalities. For the 45-day scenario, Salceda had requested 147,435 food packs, while for the 90-day scenario, he had asked for 294,870 food packs.

Secretary Gatchalian assured Salceda that “we have 60,000 food packs in Albay warehouses. In the neighboring warehouses in the entire region, we have another 40,000. We can provide support to your LGUs, going even further than the 50 percent of the 45-day scenario.”

After the courtesy visit, Gatchalian met with the mayors of Albay Province to ensure that all local government units are ready to assist and offer necessary aid to the affected families and individuals amid Mayon Volcano’s unrest. The DSWD’s Bicol regional office remains on alert and continues to coordinate with LGUs about the situation of Mayon while providing evacuees with all needed relief goods as well as non-food items such as hygiene kits.

The Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) is taking proactive steps to ensure that the needs of the evacuees are met and to minimize the impact of the calamity on the affected families and individuals. Secretary Gatchalian’s visit to the evacuation centers sends a message that the government is dedicated to providing support and assistance to those in need during these trying times.