MANILA - Taal Mayor Fulgencio Mercado on Thursday said the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs) issued government alerts before the eruption of Taal Volcano, which led to mass evacuations of residents in nearby towns.
This, after allegations were thrown earlier against Phivolcs, claiming the agency faied to issue alerts before the eruption.
"Walang kasalanan ang Phivolcs, walang pagkukulang," Mercado told radio DZMM.
According to Mercado, residents in Taal and in nearby towns knew that the volcano's activity was already active months before the eruption.
"Matagal na, halos 8 months na naming alam na nag-aalboroto ang bulkan," he said.
In an earlier interview, Phivolcs director Renato Solidum said they had been releasing bulletins regarding Taal to the public and to the Office of Civil Defense (OCD) since March 2019.
Before the Taal Volcano erupted and spewed ash, Phivolcs issued alerts to the public especially to townsfolk living nearby, Solidum reiterated.
He said that before Taal erupted, there were no signs of escalated activities by the volcano until 11 a.m., when tremors in the area started.
"Nung makita na namin 'yun (earthquakes), sinabihan na na magtataas na ng alerto at yung mga tao doon sa aming volcano observatory ay tinawagan na yung mga posibleng tawagang mga tao o mga lider doon sa volcano island na mag-evacuate," Solidum told radio DZMM.
He said before they released an official bulletin, they warned the people at Volcano Island, where Taal's main crater is located, to immediately leave the vicinity.
"Sila ang main stakeholder natin, at that time, at that level, would be the Volcano island," Solidum said.
Solidum's statement was also the earlier response of other Phivolcs officials after a lawmaker earlier urged the House of Representatives to investigate the institution for supposed lack of alerts before the eruption.
"Ang aming role ay ipasa 'yan sa organization na kailangang magresponde at mag-forward ng information sa iba't ibang stakeholders. Tinutulungan namin ang ibang ahensya para magampanan ang preparedness ng community," said Solidum.
"Hindi naman namin role na lahat ng tao, i-inform namin."