Tanauan villages within 14-km Taal danger zone placed on total lockdown

Robie de Guzman   •   January 22, 2020   •   1037

A cat sits outside a gate in Tanauan, Batangas, Philippines, 17 January 2020. EPA-EFE/MARK R. CRISTINO

MANILA, Philippines – The local government of Tanauan City in Batangas has placed under total lockdown some of its villages that are within the 14-kilometer permanent danger zone of Taal Volcano.

In a report by correspondent Vincent Arboleda on Ito ang Balita on Wednesday, the city government opted to lockdown 21 barangays near Taal Volcano due to the danger of its continued activities.

The total lockdown was implemented after local authorities withdrew the window hours, which allowed residents to enter their villages to check on their homes for several hours ever since Taal Volcano belched smoke and ash plumes on January 12.

Local officials explained they opted to totally bar residents from going back to their villages to protect them from Taal’s possible big explosion.

Taal Volcano remains under alert level 4, which means a hazardous eruption may occur within hours or days.

The Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs) earlier warned that in case of a hazardous eruption, a deadly and devastating base surge from the crater could happen and reach the towns around Taal lake.

Local authorities added that the removal of window hours was based on the recommendation of Phivolcs and the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG).

Under total lockdown, authorities set up eight staging stations to ensure that no residents will be able to slip back to their homes in 21 villages.

“Dito po pupwesto ‘yung ating mga quick response team. Kasi nga po, at any rate na mag-increase pa ‘yung alert level ng ating bulkan,” Tanauan City Information Officer Ma. Teresia Bunio said.

“Maraming purpose po ‘yan kung saka-sakali po na may mga maiiwan pa doon na mamamataan po nila,” she added.

Checkpoints and barricades were also placed to prevent residents from going in.

Around 75,224 individuals were living in the 21 villages on lockdown.

Most of them are staying in 35 evacuation centers, while others opted to live with their relatives in Laguna and Batangas which were not affected by the Taal Volcano unrest.

“We are just waiting on the go signal ng Phivolcs that it is really safe to let them be back on their places,” Bunio said. – RRD

Placing Phl Orthopedic Center under lockdown, not an option — DOH

Maris Federez   •   July 28, 2020

MANILA, Philippines — The number of healthcare workers (HCW) at the Philippine Orthopedic Center (POC) who are infected with coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) is now at 114, according to the hospital’s official statement.

The POC administration said 80 of these HCWs are active cases and the hospital is now having difficulties in finding quarantine facilities for them.

The POC added that the 20% allocated beds at the hospital are not enough to accommodate the healthcare workers and other patients who are positive for COVID-19.

However, the Department of Health (DOH) said that despite this situation, closing the hospital or placing it under total lockdown is not an option as many patients will be affected.

The DOH said they are still in talks as to which facilities will the mild and asymptomatic HCWs be sent.

Those who are positive can be admitted at the POC itself.

“We do this strategically. We close down units of the hospitals if needed kung talagang may mga highly infected employees dyan or ‘di kaya maraming nangyaring decontamination so that we can decontaminate. But not closing the whole hospital,” DOH spokesperson Usec. Maria Rosario Vergeire said.

Meanwhile, Vergeire said epidemiologic analysts believe that there are still no bases to declare that the country is already experiencing the second wave of COVID-19.

“As to the second wave nag-aaral tayo pero wala tayong nade-declare na ganito hindi parin nakikita yan na mayroon tayong ganyan. We will be continuing studying our situation,” the health official said.

She added the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) is still yet to ascertain whether the National Capital Region (NCR) will be reverted to modified enhance community quarantine status.

“The other parameters that are being utilized by the IATF in deciding. So, we have the case doubling time, the mortality doubling time, we also have the critical care utilization rate. Aside from that, we have other indicators to consider the other sectors of society, like there are economic indicators, there are social indicators, and there are security indicators as well,” Vergeire said.

The President is expected to announce at the end of the month his decision as to which quarantine restrictions will be applied in key cities and provinces nationwide. — (with details from Aiko Miguel) /mbmf

No casualty in MV Moreta fire off Marikaban Island, Batangas — PCG

Marje Pelayo   •   July 20, 2020

MANILA, Philippines — The Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) immediately dispatched BRP Boracay to help in the fire incident involving a Philippine-registered cargo vessel, MV Moreta Venture southwest off Marikaban Island in Batangas  around 4:53 a.m. Monday (July 20).

Commodore Leovigildo Panopio of the PCG-Southern Tagalog reported that there was no casualty in the incident.

The fire was immediately contained and declared fire out at around 8:00 a.m.

BRP Boracay (FPB-2401) was berthed in Sta. Clara, Batangas City when the PCG Command Center received a distress call from said cargo vessel.

Said cargo vessel, which is now dead on the water and drifting, will be towed to the nearest port for safety. 

The PCG is now coordinating with the nearest tugboat in the vicinity waters for assistance.

12 Cebu City barangays to be placed under total lockdown due to high COVID-19 cases – Cimatu

Robie de Guzman   •   June 25, 2020

CEBU CITY – At least 12 barangays in Cebu City will be placed under total lockdown due to high cases of novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19), Environment Secretary Roy Cimatu said on Thursday, June 25.

In a press briefing, Cimatu said these barangays include:

  • Sambag II
  • Kamputhaw
  • Sambag I
  • Basak San Nicolas
  • Mabolo
  • Guadalupe
  • Lahug
  • Duljo
  • Tinago
  • Tisa
  • Ermita
  • Tejero

Cimatu was tasked by President Rodrigo Duterte to address the spike in coronavirus cases and oversee the government’s response to the public health crisis in Cebu City.

The Environment chief has yet to release any details on the guidelines that will be implemented during the total lockdown in these barangays as he is still meeting with barangay chairpersons and City Mayor Edgar Labella.

However, he stressed that only one person per household will be allowed to go out of their homes to get food and other necessities during the lockdown.

Cimatu explained that the strict lockdown aims to avoid further transmission of the virus to other communities.

He also said that only those authorized to be outside of their residences and essential workers will be permitted to go out while authorities are still discussing the implementation of quarantine passes.

The Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) earlier ordered for the temporary suspension of quarantine passes of more or less 250,000 residents to control the movement of people while the city is under enhanced community quarantine status.

Cimatu also said during the briefing that more police officers will be deployed in Cebu City to enforce strict quarantine rules and compel residents to stay inside their houses.

More checkpoints were also established in different parts of the city, and residents are told to strictly observe physical distancing, wear face mask when in public and obey curfew hours. – RRD (with details from Correspondent Gladys Toabi)

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