Weekend traffic jams on SLEx as ‘good samaritans’ head to Taal-affected communities

Marje Pelayo   •   January 20, 2020   •   307

Traffic builds up on the South Luzon Express (SLEx) as good samaritans ferry relief goods to residents affected by the Taal Volcano eruption. (Photo: Maricel Vega)

MANILA, Philippines – A heavy traffic situation without altercation.

Vehicles of various types clogged the South Luzon Expressway (SLEx) during the weekend as individuals and groups ferried relief goods to residents affected by the eruption of the Taal Volcano.

The weekend traffic reached up to 12 kilometers with volunteers patiently waiting for hours for their vehicles to move to various evacuation centers across Batangas province.

The situation prompted the SLEx management to activate zipper lanes towards Calamba Toll Plaza to ease the situation.

According to SLEx Skyway president, Manuel Bonoan, motorists took advantage of the free toll at Calamba Toll Plaza and caused traffic jams.

Bonoan noted that to avail of the privilege, motorists need to coordinate with their office first to be confirmed and to advise their intended destination or recipients.

Medyo nagkaroon yata ng confusion kahapon at gusto yata lahat na may marka ang mga sasakyan kahit ballpen lang na nakalagay sa bond paper (There seemed to have been a confusion yesterday. Motorists were insisting that their vehicles be marked. They were arguing that a note on a piece of paper would do),” Bonoan explained.

 “Wala naman kaming sinasabihan na mga toll plazas na ganun. Kawawa naman ang toll teller dahil siya ang magbabayad sa toll fee kapag hindi approve ang pagdaan ng sasakyan (We do not allow that at our toll plazas. The toll tellers would have to pay the toll of unapproved vehicles that pass),” he added.

Bonoan clarified that there is no end date for the free toll on SLEx Skyway and Star Toll Plaza for government-run vehicles and private groups heading to deliver goods to Batangas provided that their trips are properly coordinated with their office.

Meanwhile, #Slex trended on Saturday as netizens hailed the display of “bayanihan” spirit that the heavy traffic situation reflected.

Here are some of the tweets:

Joint Task Group Taal visits towns severely affected by Taal eruption

Maris Federez   •   February 6, 2020

The Joint Task Group (JTG) Taal is continually monitoring the towns of Batangas that are severely affected by the Taal Volcano eruption.

The group on Wednesday (Feb. 5) distributed relief goods, in coordination with the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG), and the Philippine National Police (PNP).

With the Taal Volcano alert level brought down to 3, the group said it will continue its clearing operations on the streets that were covered by ashfall; cleaning of schools and repairing of establishments in the town of Laurel.

“Nakaready tayo sa lahat ng eventualities pati paglikas siyempre priority rin natin ang paglikas,” said AFP chief Ge. Felimon Santos Jr.

Laurel, Batangas Mayor Joan Amo said they are continuously beefing up their readiness to respond to the possible explosion of Taal.

“Bumuo na kami ng contingency plan para sa disaster plan po namin […] Ang panawagan ko lang sa aking mga kababayan sana po ay seryosohin at makinig nang mabuti doon sa aming itatalagang o ibibigay sa kanilang plano base na rin sa pinag-aralan at pinagkasunduan ng buong nanunungkulan dito sa bayan,” Amo said. — (from the report of Sherwin Culubong) /mbmf

Taal Volcano island dwellers relocated to Ibaan, Batangas

Robie de Guzman   •   February 4, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – Residents of Taal Volcano Island displaced by the volcano’s unrest have been temporarily relocated to another town in Batangas.

Several families who fled their homes in the island were moved to a relocation site in Barangay Talibon in Ibaan town.

The local government relocated them to 123 housing units initially prepared for members of the Philippine National Police and the Philippine Army.

Residents from Barangay Alas-as, Pulang Bato in San Nicolas, and Zone 4 of Talisay, whose homes and livelihood were destroyed by the Taal ashfall, were among those transferred to the site.

Some of the volcano island dwellers were ordered transferred for their safety after the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs) declared Taal Volcano Island a permanent danger zone.

Phivolcs has since downgraded the alert status of Taal Volcano from level 4 to level 3, two weeks after its eruption sent thousands of families scrambling for safety. – RRD (with details from Correspondent Sherwin Culubong)

Several homes of Taal evacuees robbed

Aileen Cerrudo   •   January 28, 2020

Several evacuees in Laurel, Batangas found their houses robbed after the local government implemented window hours that allowed them to return to homes to check their belongings.

Aside from thick ashes covering dozens of homes, residents of Barangay Gulod, Bugaan East, and Buso-Buso found some of their belongings are missing.

“Gaya ng inipon naming isda diyan pagbalik namin wala nang laman. Noong lock down, six days pagbalik namin wala ng laman, nasayang lang po iyong pagod namin (Like the fish we stored, we returned and it was empty. During the lockdown, we went back after six days and it was empty, all our efforts were wasted),” said Tirso Binaid, one of the fishermen in Laurel, Batangas.

Three barangays in Laurel, Batangas, under the 7-kilometer radius danger zone, are affected by the lockdown of the government.

Laurel, Batangas Mayor Joan Amo said they provided a 6:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. window hours for the three barangays to feed their livestock.

CALABARZON Police Regional Director Brig. Gen. Vicente Danao Jr. called on people not to take advantage of the situation.

“So hindi po ito panahon ng pananamantala (This is not the time to take advantage of others). I will be very strict, we will implement the law to the fullest lalong lalo na iyong nakikita natin na nanamantala sa ating mga kababayan (especially against those who are taking advantage of our fellowmen),” he said.—AAC (with reports from Vincent Arboleda)

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