The Duterte administration is keeping an eye on restive Taal Volcano’s activity, even after state volcanologists lowered the alert status to Level 3, Malacañang said.
Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo gave the assurance the same day when the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs) issued the lower alert status level due to less frequent volcanic earthquakes, slower ground deformation in Volcano Island and the volcano’s caldera, and weak steam and gas emissions at the main crater.
“Matutuwa tayo sapagkat yung panganib eh bumababa (We are elated because it shows that the danger is much lower),” Panelo said in an interview with dzIQ, when sought to react to Phivolcs’ announcement.
“Hindi naman nagla-lie low ang gobyerno. Palagi tayong on our toes pagdating sa panganib na naririyan sa ating mga kababayan (The government does not lie low. We are always on our toes, when it comes to dangers it might bring to our fellow countrymen),” he added.
Taal’s volcanic activity has declined since it started spewing clouds of thick ash and steam on Jan. 12.
This prompted Phivolcs to lower the alert status from Alert Level 4 to 3, which indicates a “decreased tendency towards hazardous explosive eruption.”
Phivolcs, however, warned that there could still be a “sudden steam-driven and even weak phreatomagmatic expressions, volcanic earthquakes, ashfall, and lethal volcanic gas expulsions.”
“Should an uptrend or pronounced change in monitored parameters forewarn a potential hazardous explosive eruption, the alter level may be raised back to Alert Level 4,” Phivolcs said in its 8 a.m. bulletin on Sunday.
Following the lower status of Taal Volcano, Batangas Governor Hermilando Mandanas announced that residents of all towns, except Agoncillo and Laurel, may return to their respective homes or places of work.
Panelo said those who have been affected by the Taal Volcano’s eruption should heed the government’s directive.
“Kung hindi na mapanganib, pwede nang bumalik doon. Pero ‘yung iba, hindi pu pwede. Kailangang sundin natin (If it’s no longer dangerous, they can go back to their residences. However, it’s not advisable to return to areas that are still considered in danger zone),” the Palace official said.
Over 300,000 residents from areas near Taal Volcano have been evacuated due to the volcano’s unrest.
The national government has also directed the military and police personnel to strictly implement the total lockdown of all 199 villages and 15 municipalities and cities in Batangas and Cavite. (PNA)