Military leaders, President Duterte visit Taal eruption evacuees

Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Chief-of-Staff and the Philippine Army Commanding General accompanied President Rodrigo Roa Duterte during his visit to the Taal eruption’s affected families yesterday, January 20 at Polytechnic University of the Philippines, Sto. Tomas Batangas.

Lt. Gen. Filemon Santos, Lt. Gen. Gilbert Gapay together with other government key leaders joined the president in delivering assistance to the families wherein Duterte led the handing of relief items such as food, hygiene kits, sleeping bags, and clothes.

Around 1,200 evacuees are currently taking shelter at the PUP gymnasium and its selected buildings. 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, Caliwagan’s house and livelihood were destroyed compelling her to leave for Sto. Tomas on January 13. “Pagbaba po namin [mula sa aming lugar] ay may mga rescuer [na nakaantabay], mga sundalo,” said Caliwagan who was then brought to safety by the government troops.

Duterte recognized and complimented the Filipino’s resilient spirit in the midst of the challenges that the disaster brought and also committed to extend help to the evacuees especially to their immediate needs. “Everybody is eager to help. You can be sure that the government will respond,” said the president. PHILIPPINE ARMY