Duterte to recall cops, soldiers deployed in Taal eruption-hit areas
Robie de Guzman • January 29, 2020 • 300
MANILA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte on Wednesday said he is eyeing to withdraw the members of the police and military forces deployed in areas affected by the eruption of Taal Volcano.
“I am withdrawing my police in Taal, they have been there for so many weeks already, puno na ang lungs nila ng abo,” Duterte said in a speech during the 69th Founding Anniversary of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) in Quezon City.
The president said he will leave the local government units and police assigned in areas surrounding Taal Volcano to enforce the law as mandated by higher authorities.
The military and police sent some of their personnel to Batangas and nearby areas to help evacuate and secure residents who were fleeing their homes when Taal Volcano first belched thick smoke and ash column on January 12.
The Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs) recently downgraded Taal Volcano’s status to alert level 3, which prompted local authorities to allow residents from areas outside the seven-kilometer danger zone from the main crater to go back to their homes.
Alert level 3 means a decreased tendency towards hazardous eruption but Phivolcs said: “this should not be interpreted that the unrest has ceased or that the threat of a hazardous eruption has disappeared.” – RRD (with details from Correspondent Rosalie Coz)
MANILA, Philippines – Senator Panfilo Lacson on Wednesday revealed that at least P80 billion in congressional realignments have been withheld by President Rodrigo Duterte and the Department of Budget and Management (DBM).
In a statement, Lacson said some lawmakers tried to realign at least P80 billion from the Duterte administration’s “Build, Build, Build” program to their districts’ “pet projects” under the P4.1 trillion 2020 national budget.
But instead of exercising his veto power over the line items which could stall the approval of the budget, the lawmaker said Duterte decided to just block the release of the budget by way of a DBM circular now called “for later release,” which has the same effect of a veto.
“I support the decision of President Rodrigo Duterte and the Department of Budget and Management to withhold the release of these congressional realignments,” he said.
“This is one reason why I continue to support the leadership of President Duterte in spite of some disagreements with him over some policy issues: He has time and again displayed the strong political will, even against many self-proclaimed allies in Congress whose loyalty clearly lies where the money lies,” he added.
Lacson advised the president to “always be wary of these so-called allies” who have the propensity to praise him to high heavens and never criticize him but with self-aggrandizement and greed as their only motivation and nothing else.
The House of Representatives has yet to issue a comment on Lacson’s claim. – RRD (with details form Correspondent Harlene Delgado)
MANILA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte has called on Filipinos to visit local tourism sites amid fears of international travel and restrictions due to the threat of novel coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).
In a taped message posted on social media, Duterte urged the public to help boost local tourism by visiting the country’s scenic spots and discovering other awe-inspiring hidden gem attractions.
“To my fellow Filipinos, I encourage you to travel with me around the Philippines. I assure you that everything is safe in our country, be it an issue of health, be it an issue of law and order and be it an issue of accessibility,” the President said.
“Come with me and be my travel companion. I’ll be traveling around the Philippines. Pasyal tayo dito sa atin. Unahin natin ‘yung atin. Mabuhay ang Pilipino. Mabuhay ang turismo ng Pilipinas,” he added.
The chief executive issued the call after the tourism sector reported at least P10 billion in revenue losses due to an entry ban on travelers to and from China, the country’s largest tourism market, after it was hit by coronavirus outbreak.
Duterte said local airline companies and hotel operators have agreed to offer discounted rates to counter the negative effects of the COVID-19 outbreak, and to promote the country’s tourism sector to local tourists.
“Maraming magagandang mapuntahan sa Pilipinas, wala kayong dapat alalahanin,” he said.
The Philippines has imposed an entry ban on foreigners who travelled from China, Hong Kong and Macau within 14 days in an effort to curb the spread of the deadly coronavirus strain. It later expanded the ban’s coverage to include Taiwan.
MANILA, Philippines – The Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs) on Friday downgraded Taal Volcano’s status from alert level 3 to alert level 2 following indications of decreased unrest in the recent weeks.
In its bulletin, Phivolcs said it lowered the alert level status of Taal Volcano after three weeks due to less frequent volcanic activity, stabilizing ground deformation of the Taal Caldera and Taal Volcano Island edifices, and weak steam or gas emissions at the Main crater.
“DOST-PHIVOLCS is lowering the alert status of Taal Volcano from Alert Level 3 to Alert Level 2 to reflect the overall decreasing trend in the level of monitoring parameters,” it said.
Alert Level 2 means there is decreased unrest, but State volcanologists said this should not be interpreted that unrest has ceased or that the threat of an eruption has disappeared.
The agency also reminds the public that at alert level 2, sudden steam-driven or phreatic explosions, volcanic earthquakes, ashfall and lethal accumulations or expulsions of volcanic gas can occur and threaten areas within the volcano island and its coast.
It also advised that entry to the Taal Volcano Island – a permanent danger zone – shall remain prohibited.
“Local government units are advised to additionally assess previously evacuated areas within the seven-kilometer radius for damages and road accessibilities and to strengthen preparedness, contingency and communication measures in case of renewed unrest,” Phivolcs said.
“People are also advised to observe precautions due to ground displacement across fissures, frequent ashfall, and minor earthquakes. Communities beside active river channels particularly where ash from the main eruption phase has been thickly deposited should increase vigilance when there is heavy and prolonged rainfall since the ash can be washed away and form lahars along the channels,” it added.
Civil aviation authorities are also advised to direct pilots to avoid flying close to the volcano as airborne ash and ballistic fragments from sudden explosions and wind-remobilized ash may pose hazards to aircraft.
Phivolcs said alert level 3 may be raised again should an uptrend or pronounced change in monitored parameters forewarn a potential eruption.
On January 12, Taal Volcano spewed kilometers-high ash plumes which prompted state volcanologists to raise its status to alert level 4. Thousands of residents within the 14-kilometer radius from the main crater were ordered to flee their homes due to a possible hazardous eruption.
Two weeks later, Phivolcs downgraded Taal’s status to alert level 3, which allowed displaced residents outside the seven-kilometer danger zone to return to their homes.
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