Philippines

Situation Report

Highlights

  • A community quarantine is in place in Luzon island until 13 April 2020, aimed at decreasing stress on health facilities through minimizing risk of COVID-19 infection.
  • Thousands of people remain displaced and unable to return home due to the Taal Volcano eruption, while residents of Taal Volcano island will be permanently relocated.
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Philippines

Situation Report

Key Figures

208K
persons displaced (Mindanao earthquakes)

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Situation Report

Funding

$28.7M
Funding for Marawi (as of 2019)

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Contacts

Mark Bidder

Head of Office

Gina Maramag

Public Information Officer

Philippines

Situation Report
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Risk Communications and Community Engagement on COVID-19 in the Philippines

Humanitarian partners are assisting with communicating with the public, engaging with communities, local partners and other stakeholders to share information and awareness of COVID-19. For more information on the COVID-19 situation in the Philippines, click here.

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Situation Report
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Photo Essay: Waiting for the Smoke to Clear

About 70 km south of Manila, the Taal Volcano had remained dormant for more than 40 years and was known as a picturesque weekend destination for residents of the capital city of the Philippines. But on Sunday the 12 January 2020, Taal erupted suddenly and spectacularly, sending thousands of people fleeing from a massive ash cloud that blanketed the countryside with a thick layer of volcanic dust, while a series of earthquakes signaled the movement of magma beneath the surface and raised serious concerns for a potentially catastrophic explosive eruption.

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Situation Report
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20200114 Teresita with her two children at Santo Tomas school credit OCHA GMaramag
Sto. Tomas, Batangas (14 January 2020) - Teresita and her family of eight arrived at an evacuation centre in Santo Tomas, Batangas, on 13 January after authorities ordered the immediate evacuation of her hometown of Talisay. She is pictured here with two of her children. Credit: OCHA/G. Maramag

I. Taal Volcano eruption: a family’s journey

A family from Talisay is rescued

Teresita, 46 arrived in Sto. Tomas, Batangas on 13 January with her family of eight. Teresita hurriedly packed clothing for her six children between the ages of three and thirteen, leaving behind their home, belongings and two chickens they had been raising. She arrived the night before, fleeing heavy ashfall and frequent earthquakes to seek shelter at an elementary school. She is staying in a classroom with ten other families, relatives who also fled on army trucks. The water is intermittent in the makeshift evacuation centre, and private sector donors are trucking in water daily. She is worried about her kid’s cough and her youngest looking a little frail, but says “I’m glad we were able to leave before it became too dangerous,” she said. ““We were rescued just in time.”

Evacuating the lakeshore town of Talisay

After the Government raised alert levels to 4, signifying that a hazardous explosive eruption was possible within hours or days, provincial authorities ordered the immediate evacuation of Talisay, Batangas one of the at-risk communities within a 14-km radius of the main crate of the Taal Volcano. “I was starting to worry about my children. It was not only raining ash, but also large rocks,” she said. “The earthquakes were getting more frequent and my husband and I were worried the house would collapse.” Army trucks came to evacuate her family and relatives, and they were brought to Sto. Tomas, Batangas, a neighboring town about 40 minutes away.

Taal Volcano eruption affects over 350,000 in Batangas and Cavite province

As of 28 January, over 396,000 people were affected by the Taal Volcano eruption, of whom more than 135,000 people were assisted in evacuation centres and over 170,000 people were with host families. After over two weeks of gradually decreasing volcanic activity, alert-levels were lowered to level-3 on 26 January. Residents evacuated from the 14km perimeter of the volcano but living outside the 7km danger zone are now able return to their homes. Restricted access continues for Agoncillo and Laurel communities in Batangas province, while the Taal Island remains on permanent lockdown. While Teresita and her family have been cleared to return to Talisay, but they have lost two weeks of income and their home will need repair. “I’d like to know what will happen to us down the road,” she said. “I’m worried that we will come back to nothing.”

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San Jose, Batangas (22 January 2020) - Eutropia with her daughter Leslie at a town hall being used as an evacuation centre.

II. Taal Volcano eruption: a family’s journey

A family with special needs flees to safety

Eutropia, 48 is from Lemery, Batangas, one of the at-risk towns that were evacuated by the authorities. She fled with her husband and six children, including her youngest daughter, Leslie. 4 who has Down syndrome. Her family lived on a coconut farm, where her husband works, husking coconuts sold to wholesalers at the local market to make soap. Eutropia used to give manicures but stopped after Leslie was born. “We couldn’t afford therapy for her so I stayed home to give her my full attention.”

A long journey to safe shelter

Eutropia and her husband didn’t wait for the mandatory evacuation order. “The ashfall was starting to come down heavily, combined with earthquakes. We had to do something. I covered kids heads with damp towels and got a ride with the farm owner, who was also kind enough to put us up in a hotel for a night.” Their journey to San Jose wasn’t easy. “We initially went to an evacuation center in Taal, then to Kupang, and then Bauan, and finally here in San Jose,” she said. It’s been a challenge bouncing from one place to another, especially on her daughter with special needs. “Leslie needs time to settle and with each transfer, it takes her a while to adjust. I’m not sure how long we can stay here. As of 28 January, parts of Lemery, Batangas are still on lockdown. Some residents are gradually returning to their homes while others are opting to stay in evacuation centres. Local authorities are clearing roads and facilitating the safe return of affected communities.

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San Jose, Batangas (22 January 2020) - Joanna fled Agoncillo, Batangas with her family and is temporarily seeking shelter at school classroom with five other families. Photo credit: OCHA/G. Maramag

III. Taal Volcano eruption: a family’s journey

A family from Agoncillo, Batangas remains displaced

Joanna, 40 is a private nurse and caregiver from Agoncillo, Batangas. She fled with her family of seven on Sunday, 12 January with her husband, Romel who works part-time as a fisherman and as a carpenter. “There was a strong smell of sulfur in the air, frequent earthquakes and we could see the smoke from Taal.” said Romel. As evening came, the decided to flee to safety. “Our barangay (village) had a truck that was going around the community. We initially got a ride to Balayan, Batangas, but there were fears of a tsunami because people could see the lakeshore waters receding. We eventually reached San Jose the next day. It was a long journey with five young children and my elderly mother.”

Leaving their life and livelihood behind

Romel and Joanna’s five children are from four to thirteen years old. “I hurriedly packed the kids’ school papers and some clothes. But the rest – their school uniforms, books and our belongings we left behind,” said Joanna. Her children haven’t attended school in over two weeks. As a team leader at the evacuation centre, she gets information from the camp manager about their situation. “We were told if we were to stay here longer, the children from San Jose will use the classrooms during the day, and we sleep in them at night.” There are currently 23 people staying in the classrooms, mostly relatives. “This is our first time being displaced for this long. I’m worried that we have no work opportunities here and if my kids end up in a temporary school, they will need a little lunch money. I can’t send them to school with nothing.”

Hoping to return home

Joanna heard from other villagers that her home was completely destroyed. “Some neighbors were able to return to retrieve their farm animals and they were able to check in on our house,” The roof had completely caved in due to the rain and ashfall. While alert levels were lowered on 26 January, their hometown of Agoncillo, Batangas is one of the communities in the in the 7-km danger zone, which as of 28 January still had restricted access. “We want to go home, and fix whatever is left of our house. We have nothing here and depend on donations. When will we be back on our feet?”

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2019 Highlight of Events Snapshot (As of 06 February 2020)

200206 Philippines 2019 Highlight Events Snapshot Page 2

In 2019, natural hazards and conflict affected more than seven million people in the Philippines. Tropical cyclones and earthquakes topped the list of natural events with significant impact. Health emergencies were also notable with the national government declaring a measles outbreak in February, a dengue epidemic in August and polio outbreak in September that affected more than 450,000 people. A weak El Niño (dry spell) during the first five months affected 164,000 farmers that contributed to several hundred million pesos in crop losses across the country. In the last quarter of 2019, a series of strong earthquakes hit Mindanao repeatedly that caused extensive damage to properties and infrastructures, displacement to people and loss of lives. More than 750,000 people were affected and around 380,000 people were displaced. As the country entered typhoon season, eight of the 21 tropical cyclones that entered or were formed in the Philippine Area of Responsibility made landfall. Typhoons Kammuri (Tisoy) and Phanfone (Ursula) in the last two months of 2019 affected more than 5.5 million people and temporarily displaced more than 1.8 million people. Natural disasters were not the only cause of displacement in the Philippines in 2019. Parts of Mindanao continue to be affected by military engagements with non-state armed groups. People are often repeatedly displaced from the same area as encounters flare while others are forced to settle in inadequate evacuation camps. While seeking more durable solutions, Government entities, UN and NGOs are assisting the affected people in relief and recovery efforts.

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