Taal’s hazardous eruption still 30% probable – Phivolcs

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    The Philippine Institute Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs) yesterday said there remains a 30 percent probability that Taal Volcano will have a hazardous eruption.

    In a press briefing, Phivolcs director Renato Solidum gave the assessment to Batangas Gov. Hermilando Mandanas last Sunday during a meeting where they discussed the possibility of already resuming classes in areas outside of the 14-kilometer permanent danger zone.

    “Mataas ‘yung 30 percent para doon sa nasa loob ng danger zone. Masyadong malaki ang chance at makakaapekto sa mga tao kung biglang nagbago ang condition ng volcano at sumabog sya (The 30 percent chance is high especially inside the danger zone. This will still impact greatly on the residents if the condition of the volcano changes and suddenly erupts),” Solidum said.

    But with the volcano getting weaker in recent days, Solidum said classes can already resume outside of the permanent danger zone, but advised that “schools, the students and the employees should know what to do if there are ashfall events.”

    In an 8 a.m. bulletin, Phivolcs said the activity in Taal’s main crater over the past 24 hours “has been characterized by weak to moderate emission of white steam-laden plumes 50 to 500 meters high from the main crater that drifted southwest.” Sulfur dioxide emission was measured at 141 tons.

    Phivolcs said the Philippine Seismic Network plotted six volcanic earthquakes from 5 a.m. Wednesday to 5 a.m. Thursday. Overall, a total of 731 quakes have been plotted by the PSN since January 12.

    The Taal Volcano Network, which can record small earthquakes, recorded 467 volcanic quakes during the past 24 hours.

    Alert Level 4 remains in effect over Taal, meaning hazardous explosive eruption is possible within hours to days.

    Solidum said that while Taal’s activity has waned over the past days, the threat of a hazardous eruption is still possible, especially since the number of earthquakes recorded over the past days remains relatively high.

    “Kung talagang talagang bumababa na siya, masasabi nating wala nang masyadong pagkilos doon sa ilalim ng bulkan. Remember nandyan na ‘yung magma sa ilalim. So ang tanong diyan, tutuloy pa ba sya o titigil muna sya? (Once the earthquakes become less frequent, then we can say that activities beneath the volcano are already waning. Remember that magma is just below the surface. The question now is, will it continue to erupt or will it already stop?),” he asked.

    “At kung titigil siya anong mangyayari sa volcano? So nandyan ‘yung iba-ibang scenario, pwede syang tumuloy o magkaroon ng pagsabog na malakas na delikado sa mga tao.

    Pwede rin syang tumigil na at sana ganun nga, hindi na masyadong problema (If its activities stop, what will now happen with the volcano? We have already prepared for different scenarios. It can continue and there will be a hazardous eruption. Or it can also stop already. We are hoping that it will be the latter),” he added.

    CONFISCATED FOOD ITEMS

    Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III has ordered the Bureau of Customs (BOC) to donate all of its seized food items fit for human consumption to the swelling number of evacuees from Batangas and Cavite following Taal volcano’s eruption.

    In compliance with Dominguez’s directive, Customs Deputy Commissioner Edward James Dy Buco said the BOC immediately turned over to the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) some 32 pallets containing 180 boxes each of canned Libby’s Vienna sausage seized at the Port of Manila in March 2018.

    The donation will help feed 53,000 families or around 267,000 evacuees, Dy Buco said.

    “I have directed the BOC to determine which confiscated and unclaimed shipments of food items in the ports are fit for human consumption so that these goods can be sent right away to the victims of Taal’s continued eruption,” Dominguez said.

    Dy Buco said the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has cleared the shipment of Libby’s canned sausages as fit for human consumption.

    The deed of donation for the food items has also been signed by Customs Commissioner Rey Leonardo Guerrero and approved by Dominguez to set in motion the process of sending the food items at once to the evacuees.

    Dominguez said he was informed that Guerrero had already instructed all customs ports to determine whether other items, aside from foodstuff, can be donated to the increasing number of Taal evacuees.

    Dy Buco said the BOC will send samples to the FDA to find out if a separate seized shipment of canned corned beef items stored in a 1×20-foot container are still fit for human consumption.

    “We have also coordinated with the Department of Agriculture (DA) for them to determine whether several containers of frozen fish seized at the Manila International Container Port (MICP) and forfeited in favor of the government are fit for human consumption. If found to be okay, the same will be donated,” Dy Buco said.

    On Dominguez’s earlier instructions, the BOC had been donating its seized “hot” rice shipments to the DSWD for use in the disaster relief operations.

    The bureau has also turned over other confiscated items to the DSWD such as emergency survival blankets, bed sheets, blankets and towels, clothes and face masks seized from various customs ports.

    Under Chapter 10, Section 1141 of the Customs Modernization and Tariff Act (CMTA), goods under BOC custody that are up for disposal “may be donated to another government agency or declared for official use by the Bureau, after approval of the Secretary of Finance, or sold at a public auction within 30 days after a 10-day notice posted at a public place at the port where the goods are located and published electronically or in a newspaper of general circulation.”

    Also, goods suitable for shelter, food items, clothing materials and medicines “may be donated to the DSWD,” the CMTA states.

    MORE DONATIONS

    More than 400 nursing mothers gathered in Taguig City to donate breast milk for babies affected by the eruption of Taal Volcano.

    Sen. Pia Cayetano said the day-long breast milk letting event was held Thursday at the Lakeshore Tent in Lower Bicutan, Taguig in partnership with a non-government organization.

    She said the donated milk will be stored and processed by the Taguig City Human Milk Bank and delivered to different evacuation centers in the province of Batangas.

    She said the milk letting activity is in response to the appeal of the Batangas provincial government for breast milk donations for families who have been displaced by Taal’s eruption. It also follows the Department of Health (DOH) advisory encouraging breast milk donations for areas affected by the disaster.

    She said donated breast milk collected from the event will be properly pasteurized to ensure that it is safe and clean.

    She encouraged other local government units (LGUs) in the country to initiate their own breast milk letting activities for the benefit of mothers who cannot nurse their children.

    “It would also be great for other LGUs to have similar activities like this. Even if there are no calamities, breast milk letting remains a good practice,” she said.

    For its part, the Mandaluyong city government distributed about P500,000 worth of supplies to 5,000 families affected by the eruption.

    Jimmy Isidro, Mandaluyong public information head, said that he and Mayor Menchie Abalos went to Batangas last week and distributed the relief supplies.

    The supplies included tents, clothes, canned foods, bottle waters and other necessities.
    Isidro said the funds came from Abalos and other local officials but there were also donations from Mandaluyong constituents.

    The Eastern police district (EPD) said it continues to gather supplies for another visitation and distribution of relief goods.

    Brig. Gen Johnson Almazan, EPD director, said that they are ready to distribute additional relief goods to the evacuees stationed at Sto. Tomas North Central School where many of the victims are staying.

    The donations include eight crates of oranges and eight crates of ripe bananas.

    The Chinese government has also donated one million renminbi or about P7.5 million for the ongoing relief and rehabilitation efforts for areas affected by the eruption of Taal volcano.

    In a statement, the Chinese Embassy said the donation was coursed through the Department of Foreign Affairs during a meeting between Chinese Ambassador Hunaag Xilian and Undersecretary Enrique Manalo on Wednesday.

    “Ambassador Huang expresses his deep sympathies to those Filipino friends affected by this recent volcano eruption. He also said that the Chinese side looks forward to lending more strength to the disaster relief efforts on the Philippine side to overcome the difficulties and help the affected people restore their normal livelihood at an earliest date,” the embassy said.

    Earlier, Huang visited the Batangas Sports Complex and donated 7, 000 face masks and other necessities of the evacuees housed in the complex.

    On Wednesday, US Ambassador to Manila Sung Kim announced the provision of $100, 000 (P5.1 million) in relief assistance for communities affected by the volcano eruption.

    GRANDSTANDING

    House leaders defended their decision to hold the plenary session in Batangas City last Wednesday, saying that while the presence of more than 220 lawmakers may have caused some inconvenience there, it still brought them closer to the victims of the January 12 Taal Volcano eruption.

    Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano said the unprecedented holding of the session was a “symbolic gesture” of compassion and empathy because it gave lawmakers an opportunity to directly listen not only to the calls of local officials but of people from all walks of life who were displaced by the calamity.

    “If you’re asking if we’ve caused some inconvenience, yes. We had to borrow and use the (Batangas City) Convention Center and we requested the presence of some officials who had to leave the evacuation center but I think the symbolism and the compassion much, much outweighs (the negatives),” Cayetano told reporters after the session was adjourned late Wednesday afternoon .

    He said Batangas lawmakers agreed with the House leadership’s proposal to bringThe Speaker said the House will do it again in the future if circumstances will allow lawmakers to hold session in the provinces.

    Cayetano was reacting to Sen. Francis Pangilinan who earlier urged congressmen not to get in the way of the relief operations in the province especially since the people Batangas and Cavite are already too busy attending to the needs of 500,000 evacuees.

    Local officials, who are already busy with relief operations, had to attend to the needs of lawmakers, including their security arrangements.

    The Speaker said several lawmakers just decided to ride on a single bus to lessen the number of vehicles in the area and avoid traffic congestion.

    Deputy Speaker Mikee Romero of 1-Pacman party-list said the House leadership wanted to show the evacuees that their representatives are physically present and “are one with them in this trying time.”

    “It shows that Congress is with them every step of the way. It will be easier for us to craft measures now that we know what their needs are,” he said.

    Majority leader Martin Romualdez said the out of town session was a success since many congressmen “were able to engage directly with the locals here.”

    “We did not want to become a distraction,” he said. “But we feel now is the time to spring into action and to be physically present to have personal knowledge of the individual needs kaya we are fanning out and we are meeting with the local leaders (because) this brings us closer to them so that we are more in tune. So that when we craft legislation and initiatives that the Speaker articulated, it will be on-point.”

    During the Batangas City session, congressmen adopted House Resolution No. 662 “expressing the support and commitment of the House of Representatives to work with all the concerned agencies to pass the proposed supplemental budget to expedite effective and responsive assistance to those affected by the Taal Volcano eruption.”

    The measure, which was authored by Cayetano, Romualdez and other House leaders, was filed after President Duterte called for the passage of a P30 billion supplemental budget to help the victims of the volcanic eruption.

    House Bill No. 5998, “An act appropriating the sum of P30 billion as supplemental appropriations for 2020, and for other purposes” was also filed before the resolution was approved by the plenary.

    The measure was introduced by Batangas Reps. Vilma Santos-Recto; Elenita Milagros Ermita-Buhain; Raneo Abu; Ma. Theresa Collanted; Lianda Bolilia and Mariño.

    Lawmakers then approved House Resolution No. 655 “urging the immediate release of funds for the aid relief, resettlement, rehabilitation, livelihood, development and social programs and services to communities adversely affected by the Taal Volcano Eruption, and directing the appropriate House of Representatives committee to immediately call the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) for a House committee briefing to assess the situation and determine the needs of the affected localities and the total budget requirements to address the calamity.”

    The House was also able to open deliberations on the bill creating the Department of Disaster Resilience (DDR) which will be the primary agency “responsible, accountable, and liable for leading, managing, and organizing national efforts to prevent and reduce disaster risks; prepare for and respond to disasters; and recover, rehabilitate and build forward better after the destruction.” – With Raymond Africa, Christian Oineza, Ashzel Hachero and Wendell Vigilia

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