ASF disinfection facility in Batangas removed for causing traffic jam

Marje Pelayo   •   November 8, 2019   •   246

BATANGAS, Philippines – The Department of Agriculture (DA) has put up its first automated road disinfection facility in South Luzon Expressway extension-STAR Tollway bio-security and quarantine checkpoint in Santo Tomas, Batangas early November.

The facility, which was inaugurated by Secretary William Dar himself, was established to avert the spread of African Swine Fever (ASF) and to prevent the entry of other animal diseases into the province of Batangas.

But after only a week, the management of STAR Tollway decided to remove it arguing that the facility was causing heavy traffic in the area.

The toll management did not issue any official statement on the matter.

But according to Engineer Arnel de Mesa, the DA’s Regional Director for Calabarzon, they are actually looking for a larger area where they can place the facility without disrupting traffic.

“Ang alam ko lang doon sa Sto. Tomas kasi may arrangement doon sa STAR Tollway na hahanapan [ng lugar],” De Mesa said.

“Kasi noong nailagay doon, naka experience ng matinding traffic so i-mo-move doon sa area na hindi magko-cause ng matinding trapik,” he added.

Without the facility, quarantine personnel do not have any choice but to do manual disinfection of all vehicles bound for Batangas.

“This is one way of preventing the spread of any disease lalo na yung mga gulong kaya dun sa mga farm meron silang tinatawag na foot bath tsaka tire bath,” De Mesa explained.

“Karamihan kasi ng mga sakit nandiyan sa mga sapatos, nandiyan sa mga gulong, nasa mga sasakyan,” he added.

The DA is planning to install 12 automated road disinfection facilities in strategic locations across the region where most ASF infections were recorded.

“Para patuloy po ang ating bio security control measures, hindi lang para sa ASF kundi sa major economic diseases na mga alagang hayop sa Calabarzon,” he said.

Batangas, Laguna and Quezon remain ASF-free, De Mesa assured. – MNP (with reports from Sherwin Culubong)

PH Navy’s elite force provides assistance to affected communities in Taal eruption

Aileen Cerrudo   •   January 21, 2020

The elite force of the Philippine Navy has provided assistance to communities in Batangas affected by the Taal eruption.

The Naval Special Operations Group (NAVSOG) distributed relief goods, including food, bottled water and toys to barangays and evacuation centers in towns near Taal Volcano.

According to the Philippine Navy, over a thousand adults and 400 children were given relief goods.

Philippine Navy’s Flag Officer In Command, Vice Admiral Robert A. Empedrad said the Philippine Navy is always ready to extend help to their fellowmen.

“Both our regular and reserve force give diligent efforts to provide humanitarian assistance to people affected by the calamity triggered by the eruption of Taal Volcano. Let us work together to ensure that we deliver all the services needed by our people. Your Philippine Navy is always ready to serve in every situation; we are a force that the Filipino people can always count on,” he said.—AAC

Fun, learning activities help evacuees overcome stress, trauma — Experts

Marje Pelayo   •   January 20, 2020

Children play a game of basketball inside an evacuation center in Santo Tomas, Batangas, Philippines, 14 January 2020. EPA-EFE/MARK R. CRISTINO

BATANGAS, Philippines – Apart from physical struggles, evacuees fight emotional and mental stress while the state of Taal Volcano remains unstable.

Authorities cannot confirm yet as to when the affected residents will remain in temporary shelters.

While some may still have a home to return to, most displaced residents may have to start from nothing considering the damage the volcano has caused in their properties.

During these times the victims must receive a stress debriefing.

Experts say such service is very important especially for children.

“Pwede iyon mag-develop ng anxiety disorder – hindi makakatulog, palaging nininerbyos, nagna-nightmares, ang hirap kaya niyan (They could develop anxiety disorder – difficulty sleeping, panic attacks, nightmares, such are very difficult conditions),” explained from Dela Salle University psychiatrist, Dr. Raineir Umali.

“The strong social support is very important because when you are connected with people, makakausap yung mga tao na magsasabi sa iyo (people open up to you and the would tell you) how they are able to cope or how they will be able to help you,” noted Dr. Shiela Viesca.

“The notion also that the government is there to assist that there are certain communities and groups who are willing to help (alleviates the pain of) any calamity or disaster,” she added.

Several volunteer groups offered free sessions for the affected residents.

Members of the Alitagtag Main College Department launched ‘Aklathanan’ at the Alitagtag Covered Court in Batangas.

One of the organizers, Nikko Pagsuyoin, posted a picture of when they gathered all the children and engaged them in a storytelling session and coloring activities.

Meanwhile, the 1st Batangas Provincial Mobile Force Company taught children how to dance at an evacuation center in Sto. Tomas, Batangas.

In another picture, volunteers engaged the evacuees into a Zumba session at Tejero Elementary School in General Trias, Cavite.

Several entertainment acts also performed like ventriloquist Arnold Allanigue who toured the evacuation centers in Alfonso Municipality in Cavite and in Bauan in Batangas.

Meanwhile, the Mozart’s Guild of the Polytechnic University of the Philippines – Batangas served to the delight of the victims temporarily housed in their campus. – MNP (with details from Harlene Delgado)

PHIVOLCS appeals for patience as Taal Volcano continues to shows signs of danger

Marje Pelayo   •   January 20, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – Intense volcanic activities are still being recorded around Taal Volcano while it continues to spew white ash.

According to the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (PHIVOLCS), these are signs that the volcano is still an element of danger.

Ground shaking has become frequent as PHIVOLCS recorded more than 700 tremors on Sunday (January 19) alone.

Fissures are also becoming more and more visible in different areas, which PHIVOLCS explained, are signs of rising magma.

Baka lang kasi akala ng mga tao humuhupa lang, pero sa indikasyon na dumadami ang gas, diyan natin pinapakita maliban sa lindol at iyong pamamaga ng bulkan na mayroong laman doon sa ilalim (People might think it is calming down but increasing gas emission, aside from tremors and the swelling of the volcano ground are indications that something is underneath),” PHIVOLCS OIC Renato Solidum explained.

Baka iyon ang maging dahilan ng mga biglaang pagsabog kasi open system na iyong volcano (Those might cause the eruption because the volcano is already an open system),” he added.

Also, Taal Volcano is still producing kilometers tall ash pillars and a high level of sulfur dioxide, about 1,000 tons per day, similar to the amount that Mayon Volcano produced before its major eruption in the past.

PHIVOLCS noted that said amount can mean danger.

Mataas po iyan. Kung naaalala ninyo po sa Mayon, iyong ganiyang values ay pumuputok ang bulkan (That’s high. If you remember, Mayon showed similar values when it erupted),” noted PHIVOLCS Chief of Volcano Monitoring and Eruption Prediction Division (VMEPD) Ma. Antonia Bornas.

So, may nagde-degas na shallow magma. So, anytime, kapag mababaw ang magma, maaari po itong pumutok na wala po tayong masyadong paunang babala (That means shallow magma is degassing. So when magma becomes shallow, it might erupt without prior warning),” he added.

READ: Danger remains as volcanic activities increase in Taal

State weather agency PAGASA explained that areas in the western or southern section of the volcano might be affected by heavy ashfall should Taal Volcano produce ash pillars of about three kilometers tall.

Also, based on the agency’s wind forecast, volcanic ash might reach several areas in Cavite should the volcano produce ash column higher than three kilometers.

However, should a major explosion occur and the volcano emitted ash pillar higher than five kilometers, the ash fall might affect Metro Manila, Laguna, Rizal and parts of Northern Quezon.

Solidum confirmed that the strongest ground shaking recorded so far was felt in Mabini, Batangas, a magnitude 4.6 earthquake at around 8:59 p.m. on Sunday (January 19).

Solidum said the tremor was caused by the movement of the fault.

He said the fault last moved in April 2017 and it was again activated due to the eruption of the Taal volcano.

PHIVOLCS reiterates its call to residents to stay away from the 14-kilometer danger zone while they are still observing the state of Taal Volcano.

Should volcanic activities wane within two weeks, PHIVOLCS said they might decide to downgrade the alert level over Taal volcano island. MNP (with details from Asher Cadapan Jr.)

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