By Christopher Lloyd Caliwan
MANILA — About 98 percent of the residents in villages located in areas within Taal Volcano’s 14-kilometer danger zone have been evacuated, the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) reported Monday.
“We appeal to our people to heed the instructions of local disaster officials due to the continuous risk posed by Taal Volcano to all residents,” Interior Secretary Eduardo Año told reporters on Monday in a press briefing at Camp Crame.
Remaining residents in the area were being evacuated, as Taal Volcano is still on Alert Level 4, Año said.
On areas in Tagaytay City not listed under danger zones, Año said it would depend on the decision of the LGUs whether or not to declare a lockdown.
A lockdown was imposed on several towns in Batangas following the eruption of Taal Volcano on January 12 as a preventive measure because of the imminent danger under an Alert level 4.
He said the 142 local chief executives in Central Luzon, Calabarzon (Region 4-A), Mimaropa (Region 4-B) and National Capital Region have activated their disaster preparedness protocols.
A total of 2,820 search and rescue personnel from the Philippine National Police (PNP) and different regional units have been deployed to Batangas and Cavite, and 10,240 more are on standby in case “the situation worsens.”
PNP chief Lt. Gen. Archie Gamboa said the police force’s disaster response operations involve all Luzon-based regional offices and national support units. remain focused on disaster response missions.
“There are 244 PNP personnel manning the fort in communities vacated by residents while 332 more are patrolling evacuated areas that were declared off-limits to prevent looting and possible exposure to hazardous volcanic fumes, particles, and debris,” he said.
A fleet of PNP land, sea, and air assets consisting of 68 trucks, 53 4×4 troop carriers, 12 buses, five aircraft, and 26 watercraft are deployed for the disaster response mission.
Police also assisted in the rescue of distressed farm and work animals, livestock and domesticated pets that were abandoned in evacuated communities, Gamboa said.
“In some areas, local governments have eased on security protocols to allow some residents to return to their homes to tend to abandoned livestock and pets and to retrieve some personal items. Our security forces were present to supervise controlled access into lockdown areas during designated window hours,” he said. (PNA)