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DSWD plans to distribute cash aid to families affected by Mayon unrest

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Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) Secretary Rex T. Gatchalian said on Monday (June 13) that the Department is looking at providing cash assistance to families that might be affected by the continuing restiveness of Mayon volcano.

In an interview with ANC’s Karen Davila, Secretary Gatchalian pointed out that the plan to distribute cash aid aims to empower individuals and families who have been displaced due to volcanic activity in Albay Province.

“We can empower them with the right to choose. You give them cash, they can go to their grocers to buy their family needs,” the DSWD Chief pointed out.

Secretary Gatchalian said the cash assistance will help affected families to buy their other needs, such as powdered milk for older persons and infants, an item that is not included in the DSWD’s Family Food Packs (FFPs).

The initiative is also part of the Department’s effort to practice the “anticipatory action” approach in disaster response, the DSWD Chief noted.

“Anticipatory action, alam mong sasabog ang bulkan (you know he volcano is erupting), so we can already empower the people through cash assistance. Kasi the boxes are typical, eh (since these boxes are typical). They are not tailored fit to meet every family’s individual requirements,” Secretary Gatchalian explained.

According to Secretary Gatchalian, the cash aid will be sourced from the Department’s Assistance to Individuals in Crisis Situation (AICS) Program as “disasters are crisis situations.”

Secretary Gatchalian assured the local government units (LGUs) in Albay province and the public as well that the DSWD will continue to monitor the situation to better assess the needed interventions.

“Let’s explore other interventions so that we can somehow bring back normalcy in the lives of these people who are affected by Mayon unrest,” the DSWD secretary said.

As of June 12, the DSWD reported some 9,338 families or 36,814 persons from 26 barangays in Albay who have been affected by Mayon’s volcanic activity.

The DSWD’s Bicol Regional Office is constantly monitoring all the Mayon-affected families in the different evacuation centers in Albay province.

On Monday (June 12), DSWD Field Office V Director Norman Laurio inspected four evacuation centers in Daraga City where a number of deficiencies were noted but were immediately given proper action.

At the Gabawan Elementary School, FO V immediately ordered the delivery of 69 sleeping and hygiene kits for use of the newly-arrived additional evacuees.

Director Laurio coordinated with the local Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP) for the immediate deployment of a fire truck for the water supply of evacuees sheltered at the Budiao Elementary School.

Through the FO V’s intervention, the Philippine Chamber of Commerce was tapped to provide water to the evacuees at the San Andres Elementary School with 500 bottles of 6-Liter each of distilled water.

Meanwhile, the Sto. Domingo Central School was described as a very ideal evacuation center with each room having its own toilet and sink and with enough water supply. Unfortunately, Director Laurio said, the evacuees here will only be staying for 15 days, after which they will be transferred to another evacuation center.

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