14 Batangas towns on lockdown after Taal eruption

Third Anne Peralta-Malonzo

FOURTEEN towns in Batangas province are still on lockdown amid the continuing magmatic eruption of Taal Volcano to prohibit residents from returning to their homes.

In a radio interview Friday, January 17, Batangas Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office (PDRRMO) head Lito Castro identified these towns as Agoncillo, Alitagtag, Balete, Cuenca, Laurel, Lemery, Malvar, San Nicolas, Sta. Teresita, Taal, Talisay and parts of Lipa and Tanauan City and Mataas na Kahoy.

The Batangas provincial police said earlier the municipalities of Agoncillo, San Nicolas, Talisay and Taal were under complete lockdown while a partial lockdown was imposed in the town of Lemery.

Authorities earlier said these towns were “vulnerable to ballistic projectiles, base surges, and volcanic tsunamis" brought about by the intense unrest of the Taal Volcano.

Castro assured that the government will continue to provide assistance to the affected population who are temporarily housed in evacuation centers.

He was worried, however, that the local government of Batangas alone might not be able sustain assistance to the evacuees.

“Ayan ang ina-address ngayon, itong medyo long-term plans na po sa ating evacuation. Ang DSWD (Department of Social Welfare and Development), ginagawa ang lahat ng paraan (The DSWD is doing everything to address this in the long term),” he said.

"Yun na nga po ang ating natatanaw na problema, eh sigurado po magkukulang ang resources (That's the problem that we are expecting - our resources might not be enough)," he added.

As of 5 a.m. of January 17, the Batangas PDRRMO said a total of 32,231 families or 144,272 individuals have been affected and are currently being housed in 436 evacuation centers in the said province.

National Capital Region Police Office (NCRPO) Director Debold Sinas said they will be donating P2.5 million to the affected families in Batangas.

He said each policeman from the NCRPO is giving P100 which will be deducted from the P3,000 worth of combat duty pay.

“That is the effort of the NCRPO to help and assist the evacuees of the Taal volcano eruption,” said Sinas.

In its 8 a.m. Friday advisory, the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs) said that in the past 24 hours, the activity in the main crater of the Taal Volcano has been characterized by steady steam emission and infrequent weak explosions.

These blasts generated dark gray ash plumes of 100 to 800 meters tall that dispersed ash towards the southwest to west.

Phivolcs said the fissures found in several barangays in Lemery, Agoncillo, Talisay and San Nicolas were observed to have widened by a few centimeters while steaming fissures were newly observed on the northern slopes of the Taal Volcano Island.

The agency said the shoreline of the Taal Lake has also receded.

As of 4 a.m. the Phivolcs said it recorded 632 quakes with magnitudes ranging from 1.2 to 4.1 and intensities between 1 and 5 of have been plotted. (SunStar Philippines)