150 families allowed to return to Batangas town after forced evacuation

Jorge Cariño, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jan 24 2020 12:53 AM

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Mataasnakahoy, Batangas - At least 150 families in Mataasnakahoy town who were forcibly evacuated due to the hazards of Taal Volcano's possible eruption were allowed to return to their homes Thursday evening.

The families are residents of 7 barangays and they were previously considered in harm’s way if Taal erupts again, since their area is within the 14-kilometer danger zone.

“Nakapagluwag-luwag naman sa paghinga at nandito naman ang buong pamilya. Wala namang nangyari. Okay lang po,” said Loven Signar, a 57-year old resident as they reached their home in Barangay Calingatan. 

Loven is the patriarch of a family of seven who spent Wednesday night, along with other families, at the Don Juan Pastor Memorial National High School in nearby Ibaan town. 
The families, fetched by passenger jeepneys and buses, were brought to the municipal hall of Mataasnakahoy where they received relief goods before being sent to their homes.
Calingatan is one of seven barangays in the town proper declared as a safe zone. The list includes Barangays I, II, IIA, IIIO, IV and Upa.

The town mayor said the move was prodded by the decision of the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) and Phivolcs.
“Makapagpauwi na po kami. Binigyan po nila kami ng directive na inilagay po dun yung safe na lugar at kung alin yung mga high risk,” said Mayor Janet Ilagan in an interview.

The decision reduced the number of areas in the town placed under total lockdown. 

From the original 9 Mataasnakahoy barangays under total lockdown, only 6 are now closed, namely Lumang Lipa, San Sebastian, Bayorbor, Nangkaan, KInalaglagan and Manggahan. These barangays are located directly at the lakeshore, facing Taal Volcano.

Meanwhile, still under partial lockdown are Barangays Santol, Loob and Bubuyan. Only a portion of these barangays will be closed to residents.