QUEZON CITY,  JANUARY 17, 2020 – Members of the Department of Education-Disaster Risk Reduction Management (DepEd-DRRM) Quick Response and Recovery Team (QRRT) held their first Quick Response and Recovery Management Team meeting of the year at Hernandez Hall of Southeast Asian Ministers of Education Organization Regional Center for Educational Innovation and Technology (SEAMEO INNOTECH) last Thursday, January 16, following the phreatic eruption of Taal Volcano.

DepEd Undersecretary for Administration Alain Pascua stressed the importance of the urgency brought about by Taal’s volcanic activity.

DepEd DRRMS Director Ronilda Co shared the timeline of the volcano’s recent activity and the initial DRRM actions taken after the incident as response to the concerns over displaced learners, DepEd personnel, learning continuity strategies and interventions.

Supervising Research Scientist from the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (PHIVOLCS) Dr. Perla De Los Reyes provided a scientific perspective on the situation where she gave a detailed account of Taal’s geographical profile, history, and associated volcanic hazards. She presented maps referring to the Permanent Danger Zone (PDZ) and the 14-17-kilometer radius that is susceptible to base surge.

De Los Reyes stressed that while no laws indicating a ban on the building and rebuilding of infrastructures within the 14-17 km radius danger zone, PHIVOLCS strongly suggests that no communities and schools should be reintegrated or rebuilt within the area to avoid the adverse effects of a base surge should it occur in the future.

“Build Back better nalang po tayo, because what is happening right now already happened in the past, [we] must ensure it will not happen [again]” De Los Reyes said. This could mean that the schools within the indicated radius can no longer be utilized again. To add, even when a significant number of learning equipment is retrieved once volcanic tensions subside, it is highly unlikely that the materials are still in good condition for reuse.

The QRRT was formed to fulfill the mandate on the convergence of different DepEd offices tasked to provide the necessary and effective response interventions in the aftermath of a disaster based on DepEd Order 44, s. 2018.

Towards the end of the meeting, Director Co facilitated the designation of tasks each member of the QRRT should fulfill in accordance to the roles and functions indicated in the Order.