Malacañang pleaded for the cooperation and understanding of villagers who were asked to flee their homes, amid imminent threat of a hazardous eruption of restive Taal Volcano anytime soon.
Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo made the appeal a day after President Rodrigo Duterte approved the recommendation to declare Taal Volcano Island as a “no man’s land” or an area that is uninhabited.
Following Duterte’s order, the Philippine National Police has been tasked to bar evacuees who will attempt to return to their homes, Panelo said.
Panelo stressed the Taal Volcano Island is a “Permanent Danger Zone,” which means that the locality is “not fit for human settlement.”
“The President has explicitly ordered that no individual should return to the said island, and to this end, the Philippine National Police has been tasked to prevent those seeking to return to the locality from doing so,” Panelo said in a statement.
“The Palace is therefore asking the public, particularly those who have been living in the island, for their cooperation and understanding as it is the primordial duty of the government to protect not only their safety and welfare but their very lives,” he added.
Thick volcanic ash spewed by Taal Volcano since Sunday began blanketing cars, roads, and houses near the volcano.
Amid warnings of a possible hazardous explosive eruption of Taal Volcano, Duterte on Tuesday heeded the recommendation to declare Taal Volcano Island as “no man’s land” to ensure public security and safety.
Forced evacuation of people living within the 14-kilometer radius of Taal Volcano, which is considered as high-risk zone, has already been implemented.
Panelo said thousands of displaced individuals due to the volcanic eruption in Taal can only go back to their homes, once it is declared “safe.”
“President Rodrigo Roa Duterte, during his speech before the evacuees at the Batangas City Sports Complex yesterday, January 14, 2019, has pronounced that no person should stay within the Taal Volcano Island until it is declared safe by pertinent agencies of the government,” Duterte’s spokesman said.
“The directive was made in view of the activity currently taking place in the area, as well as of the possibility that a hazardous eruption may still occur,” he added.
Panelo guaranteed that those affected by the Taal Volcano’s violent activity would receive appropriate assistance from the government.
He added that the President has already extended financial aid to those who have been directly hit by the continuing eruption of Taal Volcano.
“In particular, PRRD handed over PHP7.5 million to farmers and another PHP3.5 million to the fisherfolk for their means of livelihood,” Panelo said. “The Chief Executive likewise issued a check to help farmers recover from their displacement and distributed family food packs to distressed families.”
Local Government Secretary Eduardo Año said more policemen will be deployed to Batangas province to ensure that no residents would be able to enter the danger zone around the volcano.
In a situation briefing at the Batangas Sports Complex, Duterte said he was “very happy” with the government’s response to the rumbling Taal Volcano.
Panelo said the President expressed satisfaction over “timely intervention” of the national government, as well as the local government units, to ensure public safety and prevent the loss of human lives and serious casualties.
He added that while the Palace condemns those who have taken advantage of the situation for their personal or proprietary interests, it hails concerned government agencies for their quick response to the disaster.
Panelo said the Palace likewise lauds those who belong to the private sector for their “continued acts of genuine selflessness and volunteerism.” (PNA)