11 Batangas towns on total lockdown amid Taal eruption

MANILA, Philippines – At least 11 Batangas towns are now under a complete lockdown to stop residents from returning to their homes amid the continuing threat of a major Taal Volcano eruption.

In a DZMM interview early morning Friday, January 17, Batangas Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office head Lito Castro said there were 14 towns under lockdown – 3 under partial lockdown – up from the 4 municipalities earlier declared by the office. These towns include:

The Department of the Interior and Local Government in Calabarzon had earlier advised these local government units to conduct mandatory evacuation in barangays "vulnerable to ballistic projectiles, base surges, and volcanic tsunamis" brought about by Taal Volcano's unrest.

Amid the threat of an imminent major eruption, Castro said that the national government was helping the LGUs to figure out what to do. (READ: Calabarzon residents have no management plan for volcanic eruptions – survey)

"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. (That's what we are addressing now, the long-term plans for evacuation. DSWD is doing everything in its capacity)," the Batangas disaster chief said.

But he acknowledged that the province did not have enough funds to sustain relief operations should a hazardous eruption happen.

"'Yun na nga po ang ating natatanaw na problema, eh sigurado po magkukulang ang resources (That's the problem we are expecting, that surely, our resources will not be enough)," Castro told DZMM.

According to Castro, the DSWD would deploy "camp managers" to evacuation centers, to help manage the sheer volume of evacuees from different parts of the province.

In its 6 am bulletin on Friday, the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council reported that at least 12,696 families or 56,667 individuals were in evacuation centers in Batangas alone. A total of 15,047 families or 66,262 individuals were in evacuation centers across Calabarzon. 

Taal Volcano started erupting on Sunday, January 12, blanketing nearby areas in ash, particularly Batangas, Laguna, and Cavite. The ashfall had also reached parts of Metro Manila and Rizal.

The provinces of Batangas and Cavite had already declared a state of calamity.

The Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology said that the Taal Volcano remained under Alert Level 4 due to instense seismic activity, despite weaker emissions.  Rappler.com

Aika Rey

Aika Rey covers the Philippine Senate for Rappler. Before writing about politicians, she covered budget, labor, and transportation issues.

image