MANILA, Philippines – (UPDATE) The recent series of mild earthquakes felt in the country were not a result of the “planetary conjunction” that occurred on Friday, the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs) chief said.
Phivolcs Director Renato Solidum told ANC on Friday that the earthquakes were tectonic in nature.
“There is no statistical fact to prove that these earthquakes are related at all to the cause of the planetary alignment,” said Solidum.
According to a Phivolcs report, a 5.0 magnitude earthquake was recorded in Cotabato at 11:15 p.m. on Thursday. A 3.2 magnitude quake was then recorded in Zambales at 12:24 a.m. Friday, followed by a 2.6 magnitude in La, Trinidad, Benguet a few hours after.
“These 3 earthquakes in the early part of the day were not even strong enough to cause significant damage. The Philippines has 20 earthquakes everyday on average. Having 20 earthquakes is a normal occurrence,” he said.
Solidum also dismissed superstitions that the quakes have something to do with the alignment of planets.
Friday the 13th coincidence
It didn’t help that the alignment fell on Friday the 13th.
“This is just coincidental. If you look at the other days, there are more earthquakes than today,” Solidum said.
The Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) Space Science and Astronomy Section said planets Mars, Jupiter, Mercury, Venus, Uranus and Neptune aligned around 5 a.m. Friday.
PAGASA also assured the public that the conjunction will not have any effect on Earth.
"Hindi dapat maniwala na kapag nagkaroon ng conjunction of planets ay magbibigay ito ng disaster sa ating mundo," said Mario Raymundo, Chief of the Astronomical Observation and Time Service Unit.
Solidum likewise said that the eruption of Mount Bulusan in Sorsogon was not caused by the alignment of planets.
Solidum said: “In the past days, Typhoon ‘Bebeng’ passed over Bicol and dumped a lot of rain. The ground water would now seep into the hotter part of the volcano, and the steam generated by the boiling of water would sometimes be trapped and pressure would increase. So from time to time, Bulusan volcano would exhibit explosions but this is related to the boiling of water.”
“This is not caused by any planetary alignment,” assured Solidum.
Mount Bulusan may experience a lull for a few weeks or months after the explosion, said Solidum.
However, Solidum continues to warn the public to steer clear of the crater area, not just in Bulusan, but in Mayon and Taal as well.
Alert 2 status has been hoisted over Taal Volcano since April 9.