By Zaldy De Layola

Mayon Volcano (File photo courtesy of Phivolcs)

MANILA – The 300 metric tons of rice donated by the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry, and Fisheries of Japan (MAFF-Japan) would significantly help in the relief operations and ensure that relief assistance is continuously extended to families affected by Mayon Volcano’s unrest.

MAFF-Japan turned over the rice donation to the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) in a simple ceremony at the Albay Provincial Agricultural Office on Thursday.

“Fully provided that’s what Secretary (Rex) Gatchalian wanted and that warehouses of DSWD should always be filled with relief goods plus non-food items so that all is well for the Mayon evacuees while staying at temporary shelters,” DSWD Disaster Response Management Bureau (DRMB) Director Michael Cristopher Mathay said during the event.

The donation from Japan is equivalent to 10,000 bags, with each bag containing 30 kilograms of rice to be distributed to the affected population by the DSWD, the National Food Authority (NFA), and affected local government units (LGUs) such as Daraga, Camalig, Guinobatan, Tabaco City, Malilipot, Sto. Domingo, and Ligao City.

Minister for Economic Affairs Nihei Daisuke of the Embassy of Japan in the Philippines, ASEAN Plus Three Emergency Rice Reserve (APTERR) Secretary General Manager Choomjet Karnjanakesorn, and MAFF-Japan representative Akinori Ando handed over the donation to DSWD and Albay officials.

Mathay praised the spirit of collaboration enshrined in the APTERR agreement as he recognized the necessity of international cooperation in facing such disaster threats.

“The Philippine government, especially the DSWD, whose mandate is to provide immediate assistance to those affected by disasters, finds comfort in Japan’s continuous life-saving interventions. This donation ensures that the necessary nutritious support will reach the most vulnerable during these uncertain times,” Mathay said.

He said the DSWD is in constant coordination with the City/Municipal Social Welfare and Development Officers to implement the distribution plan of rice per evacuation center to ensure that everyone will receive the rice donated by the people of Japan.

This is in accordance with the DSWD Secretary’s commitment to the Bicolanos that all affected families will receive their needed assistance from the agency, Mathay said.

Mayon Volcano remains under Alert Level 3, which means there is still potential explosive activity within weeks or even days. (PNA)