By Vanne Elaine Terrazola
Senator Francis Tolentino said Tuesday that the resumption of business operations in Tagaytay City would help affected workers get back on their feet after the eruption of Taal Volcano.
Tolentino, a former mayor of Tagaytay City, supported the reopening of establishments in the city which he believed was “crucial” to helping displaced residents return to normalcy despite Taal Volcano’s unrest.
The Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) has clarified that only eight barangays, or villages, in Tagaytay City are covered by the mandatory evacuation due to possible base surge or volcanic tsunami brought about by the volcano’s activities.
This means hotels, restaurants, and other establishments in most areas of the city would be allowed to open and serve residents and tourists, depending on their local executives.
Despite it being within the 14-kilometer danger zone, the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs) earlier said Tagaytay Ridge is not considered a high-risk area due to its elevation.
While he understood DILG’s concerns on safety, Tolentino said people should not be prevented from making a living for their families. He said the reopening of businesses would aid not only displaced workers, but also evacuees, rescuers, and volunteers helping out in the relief efforts.
“Kaya nagbukas ang ibang mga hotels, mababa nga ang presyo pero para ang ibang volunteers makapunta rin doon. Para magkatrabaho din ang mga waiters, mga chef na walang trabaho, mga nagsusuplay ng gulay para magkahanapbuhay din,” he said in an interview in the Senate.
(Some hotels have re-opened, offered accommodations at lower prices so that other volunteers can also avail of their services, so that waiters and chefs in restaurants can continue working, and even suppliers of vegetables can get on with their livelihood.)
He added that local government units should have the final say on whether or not to allow businesses in their areas to resume operations.
“Saka (Also this is the) final choice na ito, [the] ultimate decision is the tourist themselves. Pupunta ka ba? Hindi ka naman pipilitin, binuksan lang nila (Are you going? We won’t force you to, they just opened up) for you to have the choice and to open the doors for rescuers, volunteers.”
Tagaytay City is a known tourist destination for its picturesque view of Taal Volcano, cool climate, and local delicacies.
It has 2,870 business establishments in 34 barangays, including 57 hotels, 157 restaurants, 31 spas and wellness centers, 30 events places and coffee shops, and 13 amusement places, resorts, and travel tour centers.