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Private sector steps up Taal relief efforts

/ 04:04 AM January 15, 2020

Residents wait to be evacuated as heavy ash and debris from the Taal volcano eruption continues to cover their town in Talisay, Batangas, southern Philippines on Monday, Jan. 13, 2020. Red-hot lava gushed out of a volcano near the Philippine capital on Monday, as thousands of people fled the area through heavy ash. Experts warned that the eruption could get worse and plans were being made to evacuate hundreds of thousands. (AP Photo/Gerrard Carreon)

As Taal Volcano continued to spew ash and disrupt communities and businesses within the vicinity, the private sector has stepped up mobilization of relief efforts.

“We continue to coordinate the assistance of the private sector and engage our local and overseas partners and the government and LGUs (local government units) to help people in whatever way we can,” said Butch Meily, president of Philippine Disaster Resilience Foundation (PDRF), which is made up of many of the biggest corporations in the country.

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Tulong Kapatid, the consortium of companies and foundations of businessman Manuel V. Pangilinan, mobilized relief efforts in the form of electricity, water, communication, food and relief packs that were being deployed to affected communities.

One Meralco Foundation, the social development arm and corporate foundation of Meralco, set up solar mobile charging stations at evacuation centers within the vicinity of Taal Volcano. The service is initially available at the evacuation center in Alfonso, Cavite.

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Meralco, in coordination with PDRF, also committed to provide gensets, or portable electricity generators, to various organizations and evacuation centers, along with manpower for the operation of these gensets. PDRF also helped in the provision of face masks.

The power distribution network of Meralco in the affected areas is operating normally, except in parts of Tagaytay City and Canlubang, the group said.

Free cellphone charging services were also offered to the public at the PLDT Tagaytay Office located at Gen. Aguinaldo Highway, Barangay Kaybagal South, Tagaytay City.

Maynilad Water Services, for its part, is working with the Department of Public Works and Highways to deploy 13 water tankers for the needs of affected communities. Maynilad, in partnership with the Department of Social Welfare and Development is providing 2,000 six-liter bottles while the Makati Medical Center Foundation is supplying 2,400 bottles of mineral water in partnership with Le Minerale to affected residents.Tollroad operator Metro Pacific Tollways Corp. (MPTC) also mobilized its teams to aid in clearing operations. It is currently providing water for windshields of affected CALAX motorists. MPTC is also clearing ashfall at carriageways to ensure safe passage of all vehicles. MPTC is also mobilizing relief efforts to affected communities.

PLDT and subsidiary Smart Communications have provided communication support and load credits to Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) volunteers to help facilitate the evacuation, rescue and relief of affected Batangas residents. PLDT and Smart are also coordinating with the Philippine Red Cross and Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (PHIVOLCS) for the same purpose.

The communication services of PLDT and Smart are operating normally in affected areas, except for those that are experiencing commercial power outages.

The Alagang Kapatid Foundation, PLDT-Smart Foundation (PSF) and Cignal TV employees are also deploying a food truck to serve hot meals at evacuation centers. The food truck, which will be stationed at affected areas in Tagaytay, Laurel and Mabini in Batangas, will likewise provide free nebulization services from volunteer doctors and nurses of the Makati Medical Center Foundation.

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Care packs will also be distributed to evacuation centers. Makati Medical Center Foundation will provide 8,000 pieces of face masks and 1,500 psycho-social first aid kits in partnership with My Dream in a Shoebox Project. PSF will also provide relief goods to affected families, and hygiene kits and protector masks to emergency responders teams for use during their response efforts.

The Metro Pacific Investments Foundation, on the other hand, will provide care packs containing 1,000 blankets, 1,000 mats, and 1,500 shirts for both children and adults.

PDRF, along with member companies Pilipinas Shell Petroleum Corp. and Metrobank, is also distributing face masks in affected areas. In partnership with Airbnb Open Homes, PDRF is also ready to provide temporary accommodations for response teams.

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