ABOUT 21,000 children living within Taal Volcano’s 14-kilometer danger zone were affected by its eruption, according to the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.
More than eight million children from almost 8,000 schools were also affected after classes were suspended due to ashfall that enveloped cities around Metro Manila, the UN body said, citing an Education department report.
The government has ordered public schools in the Calabarzon region — made up of the provinces of Cavite, Laguna, Batangas, Rizal and Quezon — to accommodate displaced students.
About 180 schools were being used as evacuation centers.
“Children are not just little adults,” Alberto T. Muyot, chief executive officer at Save the Children Philippines which the UN cited, said on its website. “They require specific support to meet their emotional and psychological needs. Infants, toddlers, and children require special care and supplies during and after natural disasters,” according to the civic group
Unless this support is provided quickly, children are likely to suffer long-term developmental, physical and psychological setbacks, Mr. Muyot said.
“Authorities need to coordinate with parents and caregivers to prepare for children’s unique needs at times of disaster,” he added.
Meanwhile, a senator said both Houses of Congress had factored in unused funds from last year, resulting in a lower budget for calamities this year, a senator said on Friday.
Senator Juan Edgardo M. Angara, who heads the finance committee, cited unused funds from agencies worth P700 billion after the 2019 national budget was passed late. Another P7 billion in calamity funds from last year was not used, he told reporters in a group message.
This year’s national budget provided P16 billion to the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management fund, which is P4 billion lower than last year.
Some lawyers earlier cited the need to pass a supplemental budget amid Taal Volcano’s continued eruption.
“Billions lodged in various agencies were not used so that was a consideration in setting 2020 levels,” Mr. Angara said. “Incidentally, much of those funds are still available and if declared by the executive as savings, can be spent to help the victims of the eruption and other calamities,.” — Genshen L. Espedido and Charmaine A. Tadalan