By Nanette Guadalquiver

ASSISTANCE. Some of the residents of La Castellana, Negros Occidental displaced by the eruption of Mt. Kanlaon receive cash assistance of PHP10,000 each and relief goods from the Department of Social Welfare and Development Saturday afternoon (June 15, 2024). First Lady Liza Araneta-Marcos and Social Welfare Secretary Rex Gatchalian led the turnover of assistance to 1,579 affected families in Bago City and La Castellana. (Photo courtesy of DSWD-Western Visayas)

BACOLOD CITY – The Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) distributed cash assistance and relief goods to almost 1,600 families affected by the eruption of Mt. Kanlaon in Negros Occidental over the weekend.

First Lady Liza Araneta-Marcos and Social Welfare Secretary Rex Gatchalian led the turnover of PHP17 million worth of assistance in Bago City and La Castellana town on Saturday afternoon.

A total of 1,386 families in La Castellana and 193 in Bago City received PHP10,000 each or a total of PHP15.79 million under the DSWD Assistance to Individuals in Crisis Situation (AICS) program.

Also distributed were 288 hygiene kits, 97 sleeping kits, 193 family kits and 194 family food packs worth PHP1.201 million.

“We will continuously ensure that the displaced families are provided support in their basic necessities as well as their psycho-social well-being,” May Rago-Castillo, information officer of DSWD-6 (Western Visayas), said in an interview on Sunday.

In a statement, Mayor Rhummyla Nicor-Mangilimutan of La Castellana, the local government unit (LGU) hardest hit by the eruption of Mt. Kanlaon on June 3, thanked the national government for assisting her affected constituents.

“My heart is full of gratitude and appreciation not only for your help but also for your presence. We have felt that we are not alone in this battle,” she added.

Edger Agustin, 46, a resident of Barangay Mansalanao in La Castellana, said the cash assistance he received is a big help after the eruption damaged his crops.

His family stayed at an evacuation center for 10 days before they were allowed to return home four days ago.

“I will use this to buy household needs and also to provide for the needs of our children,” Agustin said.

Close to 800 families, whose homes are situated within the four-kilometer permanent danger zone of Mt. Kanlaon, are still staying in evacuation centers, according to data from La Castellana LGU.

This time joined by the First Lady, Gatchalian came to Negros Occidental for the second time to check on the internally displaced persons.

According to DSWD-6, Gatchalian instructed Regional Director Carmelo Nochete to ensure that the affected families are provided with their basic needs.

Since June 3, the agency has been providing technical assistance and resource augmentation to the affected localities.

Agency staff have also been ensuring the psycho-social well-being of the evacuees, especially the vulnerable sectors such as women, children, elderly and persons with disability. (PNA)