Due to Taal Volcano’s magmatic unrest, a total of 6,045 individuals coming from 1,753 families have already been evacuated as per the latest update of Batangas Provincial Information Office (PIO) on their Facebook page yesterday, July 5.
As of press time, 3,480 individuals from 68 barangays are taking refuge inside the evacuation centers, while 2,565 more have sought shelter with relatives in nearby towns.
A total of 23 evacuation centers situated in Nasugbu, Balayan, Agoncillo, Balete, Laurel, and Alitagtag have been readied after Taal Volcano was placed under Alert Level 3 since July 1.
The Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (PHIVOLCS) once again reminded the public that the high volcanic sulfur dioxide gas emission at an average of 22,628 tonnes per day, which was recorded as of 4:15 p.m. of July 4, is an indication of the ongoing movement of magma that could signal an eruption.
The Batangas Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office (PDRRMO) also calls on residents living near the volcano-high-risk barangays of Agoncillo and Laurel to stay in evacuation centers for the meantime due to the possible hazardous flow of ashes and rock debris, and volcanic tsunami in the event of an eruption.
Meanwhile, the Batangas provincial government provides prompt assistance and aid such as food, hygiene kits, family tents, and beddings to the families and individuals affected by the threat of the Taal Volcano.
The Provincial Social Welfare and Development Office (PSWDO) supervises a mobile kitchen in Agoncillo, which provides hot meals, canned goods, rice packs, and some cooking utensils to be used in the community kitchen.
“To address the present situation, we realize that we have to have a quick response, and that can be done only with the preparation and at the same time with the help of everybody,” said Batangas Governor Hermilando “DoDo” Mandanas during a meeting streamed on the official Facebook page of Batangas PIO.
Mass vaccination for Taal evacuees
City governments from Metro Manila, such as Pasig, Marikina, and Taguig, have donated a total of 6,500 jabs of COVID-19 vaccines for the mass vaccination of Taal evacuees.
However, Jonnalyn del Mundo, Red Cross Youth – Batangas Chapter Interim Council Secretary, said that many evacuees are still unwilling to be vaccinated.
“May schedule naman po for vaccination, but there’s this problem na sobrang kaunti ng willing magpa-vaccine and kulang talaga sila sa information about vaccine. So ‘yun yung wino-work out ng team [Red Cross],” said del Mundo.
On the other hand, when asked about the COVID-19 protocols, del Mundo said that both the evacuees and the volunteers aim to strictly practice social distancing and wearing of face masks and face shields.
“Limited po talaga ang galaw namin dito ngayon […] also ‘yung social distancing mahirap masunod kase may mga EC [evacuation centers] na crowded talaga na umaabot na 20 families na may 57 na individuals. So challenging po talaga,” said del Mundo.
[Thumbnail photo from PIA Batangas]