2,000 cops pulled out from Taal-affected areas return to normal duties

Robie de Guzman

MANILA, Philippines – The 2,000 policemen who were part of the reactionary standby support force (RSSF) deployed to assist in the evacuation of families affected by the eruption of Taal Volcano have returned to their normal duties, the Philippine National Police (PNP) said.

In a statement, PNP Spokesperson Brigadier General Bernard Banac said the recall of the cops was ordered by Police chief General Archie Gamboa on Wednesday night in compliance with the directive of President Rodrigo Duterte.

Duterte had ordered the withdrawal of policemen and cops stationed in communities affected by the volcano’s unrest as he expressed concern for their respiratory health after possibly inhaling volumes of ash spewed by Taal while performing their duties.

Banac said the policemen would undergo medical check-ups to ensure that they have not acquired any ailment during their deployment in the Calabarzon region.

He added that all members of the RSSF will return to their respective units effective Thursday.

The PNP assured that local government units and police forces assigned in Calabarzon will continue to provide security and assistance in the relief operations for those still affected by the activities of Taal Volcano.

The move was implemented after Taal Volcano’s status was downgraded to alert level 3, which means a decreased tendency towards hazardous eruption.

The lowered alert level allowed residents outside the 7-kilometer danger zone to go back to their homes.

The Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology, however, said the downgraded alert level should not be interpreted that the unrest has ceased or that the threat of a hazardous eruption has disappeared. – RRD (with details from Correspondent Lea Ylagan)

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