Bato to animal welfare groups: Fine, go to Taal, but sign waiver

Jove Moya

SENATOR Ronald "Bato" dela Rosa on Thursday suggested that animal welfare advocates who insist on rescuing animals on Taal Volcano island must sign a waiver clearing the government of any liability.

Dela Rosa was reacting to the call of lawyer Heidi Marquez Caguioa, program director of the Animal Kingdom Foundation Inc. (Akfi), for the government to come up with a plan to rescue animals stuck on the volcano island.

"We have been pressing for the immediate rescue of the animals because they are the reason why communities keep coming back to the area," Caguioa said during a committee hearing on urban planning, housing and resettlement for the Taal Resettlement and Rehabilitation Program Thursday, January 30, 2020.

The Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs) lowered Taal Volcano's status from Alert Level 4 (imminent hazardous eruption) to Alert Level 3, which means that there is “decreased tendency towards hazardous eruption.”

However, Phivolcs Director Renato Solidum Jr. clarified that the lowering of the alert level doesn't mean its threat is over.

"We will maintain the alert level three, at this moment, the magma is around five kilometers, that's what we're monitoring," Solidum said.

"When we lowered the alert level to 3 that doesn't mean the threat is over," he added.

According to Dela Rosa, a waiver may help settle the problem between persistent groups and government agencies.

"Ang gobyerno ayaw kayong papasukin dahil ayaw nilang pag may nangyari doon, sila ang masisisi, kayo naman nag i-insist pumasok--papirmahan natin sila (rescuers) ng waiver na kapag namatay sila sa isla hindi ninyo sisisihin ang gobyerno," Dela Rosa said.

The People for Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) earlier called on the Batangas provincial government to launch an animal rescue mission in the area.

Peta has so far saved 132 animals since Taal’s status was raised to Alert Level 4. (SunStar Philippines)