by Joyce Ann L. Rocamora
MANILA – The Department of Tourism (DOT) on Wednesday directed the tourism establishments that continue to operate in areas affected by the Taal volcanic activity to “immediately cease operations” amid threats of an imminent explosive eruption.
In a statement, the DOT said the health and safety of workers and tourists should remain a priority at this time as authorities have not downgraded Taal Volcano’s alert status.
“The Department of Tourism strongly advises all tourism enterprises operating in all affected areas of the Taal Volcano disaster to immediately cease operations in light of DOST-Phivolcs’ [Department of Science and Technology-Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology] Alert Level 4 warning,” it said.
The agency said those covered by the advisory are “areas within the danger zone identified by Phivolcs.”
As of writing, the DOT is determining the total number of tourism establishments within the danger zone that are reportedly still operating.
“The Department calls for full cooperation among all tourism stakeholders to help avoid serious consequences that may result from irresponsible behavior during this natural disaster,” the DOT said.
Alert Level 4 still remains in effect over Taal Volcano, which means a hazardous explosive eruption is possible within hours to days.
In a bulletin dated January 15, the Phivolcs reiterated the total evacuation of Taal Volcano Island and high-risk areas as identified in the hazard maps within the 14-km radius from Taal’s main crater and along the Pansipit River Valley where fissuring has been observed.
New fissures or cracks were observed in Sinisian, Mahabang Dahilig, Dayapan, Palanas, Sangalang, Poblacion, Mataas na Bayan, Lemery; Pansipit, Bilibinwang, Agoncillo; Poblacion 1, Poblacion 2, Poblacion 3, Poblacion 5, Talisay and Poblacion, San Nicolas. (PNA)