MANILA - The local government of Agoncillo town in Batangas on Saturday appealed for help from the national government amid the ongoing evacuation of thousands of its residents in areas within the 7-kilometer danger zone around restive Taal volcano.
Agoncillo Mayor Daniel Reyes said there are currently around 25 to 30 families from Barangay Banyaga and Bilibinwang staying in evacuation centers, while many residents are still in their homes.
Reyes said they have to look for other evacuation centers for their residents as most facilities are already full because of the need to comply with health and safety protocols due to the COVID-19 pandemic, including distancing.
“Yun ang problema, kung ilikas lahat itong 5,000 halos na population doon sa dalawang barangay wala naman po kaming sapat na pondo para gamitin sa mga ito. Wala rin pong sapat na pasilidad ang bayan na kayang mag-accommodate sa lahat po na 'yun,” he said.
(That’s the problem, if we evacuate the estimated 5,000 population of these two barangays, we don’t have enough funds to use for them. We also don’t have enough facilities to accommodate all of them.)
Reyes appealed to the national government for help in looking for available evacuation centers and for food supply for their evacuees.
“Mahirap pong magpakain ng 2,000 to 3,000 tao sa isang araw,” he said.
(It’s hard to feed around 2,000 to 3,000 people in one day.)
Reyes also appealed to residents to cooperate and heed government's order to evacuate.
“Sa mga kababayan ko sa Barangay Banyaga at Bilibinwang, may abiso po sa atin ang pamahalaan na tayo po ay lumikas, kung maari po gawan po natin ng paraan. Kami naman po ay handa na ilikas kayo,” Reyes said in an interview on TeleRadyo on Saturday morning.
(To all residents of Barangay Banyaga and Bilibinwang, there is already an advice from the government to evacuate, and please let’s evacuate. We are ready to evacuate all of you.)
Checkpoints are being set up to prevent evacuated residents from returning to their homes and only those who will tend to their livestock will be allowed entry.
“Ang isa sa problema namin sa ngayon 'yung aming mga kababayan pagka nakaalis sila, bumabalik po, ang dahilan nito ay para intindihin ang kanilang mga naiwang alagang hayop at isda, 'yun po ang challenge sa amin ngayon dito sa Agoncilo. 'Yung abiso namin sa kanila na 'yung iba baka pwedeng ibenta na at the same time, pwedeng dalin sa mas malayo, yun naman ang ginagawa ng iba,” he said.
(One of our problems here is that some evacuated residents still return to their homes to tend to their livestock and fish cages, and that’s really a challenge for us. We advised them to sell some of their livestock or bring it somewhere safe and that is what others have been doing.)
Phivolcs on Friday warned that the Taal Volcano could have a stronger eruption after it spewed steam and rock fragments hundreds of meters into the sky the day earlier, raising its alert level and prompting thousands to evacuate.
Taal continues to emit smoke, which is caused by gas and water vapor moving up towards its crater.
On Thursday, Taal volcano had a "short-lived dark phreatomagmatic plume" that rose a kilometer into the air.
That was followed by 4 "short phreatomagmatic bursts" that produced 200-meter-high plumes above the main crater lake, Phivolcs said in a later update.
Taal's last eruption in January 2020 shot ash 15 kilometers high and spewed red-hot lava, crushing scores of homes, killing livestock and sending over 135,000 people into shelters.