DILG tells LGUs: Ensure immediate response amid Taal eruption

Robie de Guzman   •   January 13, 2020   •   218

Villagers board a rescue vehicle after a volcano eruption in Talisay, Batangas, Philippines, 13 January 2020. Thousands of people have been ordered to evacuate as authorities in the Philippines raised the alert due to the increased activity of the Taal volcano, located in an island near Manila. The Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (PHIVOLCS) raised the alert level from 1 to 3 and then 4 – on a scale of 5, after an increase in the activity of the crater resulted in an eruption spewing steam and ash up to one-kilometer high.

MANILA, Philippines – The Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) on Monday, January 13, reminded local government units (LGU), especially in places affected by the ash spewed by Taal Volcano, to be physically present in their respective areas to ensure immediate and timely disaster response.

The DILG made the reminder after Taal Volcano spewed ash and steam on Sunday, January 12, prompting evacuation orders for residents in surrounding villages as a precaution for an imminent hazardous eruption.

In a statement, DILG Secretary Eduardo Año said local chief executives should convene their respective local disaster offices, and activate incident management teams and other disaster response teams to extend proper assistance to their constituents.

“The DILG will closely monitor the actions taken by the LGUs in accordance with Operation Listo protocols,” Año said.

The DILG chief also said that the Philippine National Police has been placed on full disaster response status and that they are now implementing mandatory evacuation in areas directly affected by the Taal volcanic eruption.

He added that the PNP is closely coordinating with the local government units in mobilizing search and rescue assets in Calabarzon.

“All PNP Regional Directors in Central Luzon, Calabarzon, Mimaropa, Bicol and the National Capital Region have also been directed to immediately activate their respective Disaster Incident Management Task Group, Regional Reactionary Standby Force, and Search and Rescue assets for immediate deployment, as needed by conditions in their respective areas,” he said.

The Bureau of Fire Protection is also under full disaster response status and is currently assisting in the implementation of the mandatory evacuation ordered by the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) due to the hazards of pyroclastic density as advised by the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology.

Año also directed LGUs and other agencies to conduct rapid damage assessment and needs analyses, as well as infrastructure audit of all buildings, houses, roads, bridges and other critical facilities in their respective areas as soon as practicable.

The DILG chief also called on the public to help those affected by the disaster to donate clean drinking water, food, emergency medicines and other basic essentials such as tents, blankets, water containers, and cooking pots, for the use of the evacuees.

The donations may be coursed through the Department of Social Welfare and Development or directly to the LGUs, he said.

PH Navy donates relief goods to Taal victims

Aileen Cerrudo   •   January 27, 2020

The Philippine Navy (PN) donated P700,000 worth of relief goods to the municipality of San Luis in Batangas on Sunday (January 26).

According to the Philippine Navy, three evacuation sites where identified for the distribution of the relief goods: San Isidro Labrador Parish Church in Brgy. Poblacion, Taliba Evacuation Center in BrgyTaliba and San Luis Academy in Calumpang West.

Around 4,000 relief goods were given to the evacuees in the three said areas which include a pail, 1 kilo of rice, assorted canned goods, food packs, bottled waters and personal hygiene kits.

Other relief goods from various organizations were also distributed.

“150 mattress foamS from Uratex Company and dozens of various relief items from other PN stakeholders were also distributed in this activity,” according to the Philippine Navy.

Philippine Navy Flag Officer In Command Vice Admiral Robert A. Empedrad said he wants to ensure proper assistance is provided by the Philippine Navy before he retires. Empedrad will be retiring from office by next week.

“We are always willing to assist our stakeholders as we assure everyone that your Navy is always ready to serve in every situation and that you can always count on us,” he said.—AAC

Some schools in Calabarzon hit by Taal eruption prepare for class resumption

Robie de Guzman   •   January 24, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – Several schools in Tagaytay City and in Calabarzon region have begun preparing for the possible resumption of classes next week amid the continuing activities of Taal Volcano.

Calabarzon Regional Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (RDRRMC) on Friday said some families temporarily staying in schools being used as evacuation centers have been transferred to other shelters.

Clean-up of classrooms which previously housed evacuees have also commenced in line with the directive of the Department of Education (DepEd).

“Kasi meron po tayong memorandum po from Department of Education na nagsasabing it should be 15 days after the disaster na dapat ay makabalik na sa mga regular schooling ang mga kabataan natin,” Calabarzon RDRRMC information officer Jovner Dupilas said.

From the previous 626 evacuation centers opened in the region, the number has gone down to 500 after they decongested some shelters to give way for the possible reopening of classes.

Dupilas added they are now identifying other facilities that may be used as temporary shelters for families who fled their homes amid the Taal Volcano unrest.

“Nag-iidentify tayo ng mga evacuation center na konti lang ‘yung bilang or ‘yung evacuation centers na hindi na ginagamit. For example, sa Sta. Rosa City, meron tayong regional evacuation center doon na ipinatayo at ngayon ay hindi pa ginagamit,” he said.

Some schools in Tagaytay that are blanketed by thick layers of ash spewed by Taal are also being cleaned.

Classes here were supposed to resume on January 23, Thursday but was postponed by local authorities.

“Isa sa dahilan po kaya hindi pa po kami nagpatuloy dahil hindi pa po lahat ng school ay ready. Tuloy-tuloy pa po yung paglilinis, kaya iyon po yung isa sa dahilan namin maliban po doon sa alert level,” Tagaytay City Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office chief Jose Clyde Yayong said.

DepEd earlier said it would recommend the resumption of classes on February 3 in areas that were affected by the eruption of Taal Volcano.

“Because things are calming down in certain places [and] in the schools which we believe can already be reopened, classes can be resumed starting February 3,” DepEd Secretary Leonor Briones said at a press briefing Friday.

“There are places na mas natatamaan sa Cavite. There are places na mas natatamaan sa Laguna,” she added.

Areas in Batangas that are not heavily affected by the volcanic activities could reopen classes to accommodate learners displaced by the disaster, Briones said.

Data from the department revealed that 1,054 schools in Calabarzon (Region 4A: Cavite, Laguna, Batangas, Rizal and Quezon) were affected by the suspension of classes as of January 23. Classes in some schools in the region were suspended indefinitely since Taal Volcano started erupting on January 12.

Although DepEd has recommended a date for the school reopening in the region, Yayong said they would have to depend on the updates and advise from the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs).

“Titingnan po namin kasi sabi nga naming, what if isang taon siyang maging alert level four? So, depende po sa obserbasyon ng Phivolcs na iyon po ang sinusunod namin,” he said.

Taal Volcano remains under alert level 4, which means a hazardous eruption is imminent.

As of January 24, Friday, Phivolcs reported that Taal emitted a tall column of thick steam anew, signifying that the heating up of volcanic materials underneath the crater has intensified. The number of recorded volcanic quakes also increased to 466 from Thursday’s 444. – RRD (with details from Correspondents Benedict Samson and Vincent Arboleda)

Thick, white steam from Taal means volcanic materials are rising — PHIVOLCS

Marje Pelayo   •   January 24, 2020

MANILA, Philippines — Taal Volcano spewed anew a tall column of thick, white steam early Friday morning (January 24).

Experts from the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (PHIVOLCS) explained that the white steam-laden plumes of about 500 meters high that drifted towards the southwest direction signify that the heating up of volcanic materials underneath the crater has intensified.

In a press briefing, Volcano Monitoring Chief Ma. Antonia Bornas explained that the thick steam means that excessively hot volcanic materials are rising, causing the water to boil.

Mayroon po kasi tayo talagang magma na umaakyat at ito po talaga ang binabantayan natin (The magma is still moving up and this is what we are monitoring at present),” Bornas said.

Iyong steam ito po ay mula sa ground water or sa tubig ng lawa na sumisipsip sa ilalim ng lupa nung nagkaroon tayo ng fissuring at ito po ay nalilikha sa ibabaw ng magma dahil napakainit po nito at ibinubuga iyong steam (The thick steam came from ground water or the lake water that is drying up in the event of fissuring. There is evaporation going on top of the very hot magma thus steam is produced),” she added.

Bornas also noted the increase in sulfur dioxide (SO2) emission from 144 tons per day on Thursday (January 23) to an average of 224 tons per day on Friday.

Still, PHIVOLCS stressed that the high frequency of volcanic tremors indicates that the magma is continuously rising and may still result to an eruptive explosion.

Based on PHIVOLCS monitoring, Taal Volcano has generated 486 volcanic earthquakes including four low-frequency earthquakes.

The agency said Alert Level 4 still remains in effect over Taal Volcano which means a hazardous explosive eruption is possible within hours to days.

PHIVOLCS reiterates that forced evacuation of Taal Volcano island remains necessary as well as other identified high-risk areas where fissures are being observed.

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