By Priam Nepomuceno
MANILA — Armed Forces of the Philippines chief-of-staff Lt. Gen. Felimon T. Santos and Philippine Army (PA) commander Lt. Gen. Gilbert Gapay on Monday accompanied President Rodrigo R. Duterte and other ranking government officials during their visit to families affected by the eruption of Taal Volcano last January 12.
The Chief Executive and the ranking military and government officials met with the affected families staying at the gym and selected buildings of the Polytechnic University of the Philippines (PUP) in Sto. Tomas, Batangas, the PA said in a statement.
Around 1,200 evacuees are currently being housed at the Polytechnic University of the Philippines (PUP) campus in Sto. Tomas town.
Santos and Gapay also joined the President in the distribution of relief aids to affected families. These evacuees received food items, hygiene kits, sleeping bags, and clothes.
One of the evacuees, Mila Caliwagan, narrated how her family, together with four other families, took refuge inside a neighbor’s horse stable in Talisay, Batangas during the onset of the eruption.
Due to frequent earthquakes and heavy ashfall, Mila’s house and livelihood were destroyed forcing her to leave for Sto. Tomas on January 13.
“Pagbaba po namin [mula sa aming lugar] ay may mga rescuer [na nakaantabay], mga sundalo (When we went down from our place, there were rescuers on standby),” Caliwagan, who was then brought to safety by the government troops, said.
The Chief Executive recognized and complimented the Filipino’s resilient spirit in the midst of the challenges brought by the disaster and also committed to extending help to the evacuees, especially their immediate needs.
“Everybody is eager to help. You can be sure that the government will respond,” the President said. (PNA)