Calabarzon placed under state of calamity for a year

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    PRESIDENT Duterte has placed the Calabarzon area or Region 4-A under a state of calamity to hasten the rehabilitation of areas affected by intensified activities of Taal Volcano in Batangas last month.

    The state of calamity covering the provinces of Cavite, Laguna, Batangas, Rizal, and Quezon will last for a year unless lifted sooner lifted, according to Proclamation No. 906 signed by Duterte on February 21.

    Almost 130,000 families from the Calabarzon region were affected.

    Taal Volcano reached alert level 4, which warns of an imminent hazardous eruption, on January 12 when it spewed a giant ash plume, with ashfall reaching Metro Manila. The phreatic eruption also sent thousands to evacuation centers.

    The alert was lowered back to level 2 on February 14. The level warns of “sudden steam-driven or phreatic explosions, volcanic earthquakes, ashfall and lethal accumulations or expulsions of volcanic gas can occur and threaten areas within Taal Volcano Island and along its coast.”

    Duterte, in the proclamation order, said the state of calamity declaration would hasten rescue, relief, and rehabilitation efforts of government and the private sector, including any international humanitarian assistance, as well as control the prices of basic goods in the affected areas.

    Taal on Wednesday emitted plumes, as high as 300 meters, the highest in about two weeks, the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs) said yesterday in an 8 a.m. advisory.

    It said it also recorded “intermittent weak steaming activity” during the observation period. – With Victor Reyes