MANILA — Local officials in Batangas are studying placing the province under a state of emergency as towns deal with the thick volcanic smog, or vog, from Taal Volcano, Vice Governor Mark Leviste said Saturday.
Leviste said the state of emergency would help local government tap into their disaster and emergency funds.
"Ito ay pag-aaralan pa lamang (state of emergency) kung ano ang magiging recommendation ng iba't ibang ahensya ng gobyerno from national government agencies to provincial offices, yun ang aming pangangalagaan," Leviste said over TeleRadyo Serbisyo.
(We are still studying this based on what agencies — from national government agencies and provincial offices — will recommend )
"Pati yung cancellation of classes at pagbabalik ng online learning at modular learning [iniisip] pansamantala habang tayo ay naka-state of emergency," he added.
(Even the cancellation of classes and a return to online learning and modular learning is being considered while under a state of emergency.)
Some residents report breathing difficulty
So far, the official, said several residents in many parts of the province have reported inhaling the volcanic smog, causing discomfort in their lungs.
"Ilang estudyante at kabataan na nahihirapan huminga. Tinugunan ng [Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office] at nagbigay na ng immediate intervention. Nebulizers, pulse oxymeter to determine the oxygen saturation," he said.
[Some students and youth have reported difficulty in breathing. The DRRMO addressed this and gave immediate intervention.]
Officials there, he said, will still wait for the report of science agencies and disaster monitoring and response units before making any decisions.
Local governments, however, have the power to suspend classes and call for evacuation if they deem necessary, he said.
"Ayokong mag-anticipate ng situation dahil ito ay magdala ng unnecessary panic sa ating mga kababayan. Hintayin na lang natin 'yung pag-ulat at latest data," he said.
(I don't want to anticipate the situation because that will bring unnecessary panic. Let's just wait for updates and the latest data.)
Calabarzon's Office of Civil Defense (OCD) on Friday said they are monitoring the potential increase in Taal Volcano's sulfur emissions.
OCD-Calabarzon's operations chief Randy Dela Paz said some illnesses have been recorded linked to the "[inhalation] of the Taal volcanic smog." He did not elaborate.
The vog has persisted in parts of Batangas for the past two to three weeks, Dela Paz said.
Based on its most recent vog advisory posted on Thursday afternoon, Phivolcs said volcanic smog has lingered over the Taal Region "since the first week of September."
"Phivolcs reminds the public that Alert Level 1 prevails over Taal Volcano, which means that it is still in abnormal condition and should not be interpreted to have ceased unrest nor ceased the threat of eruptive activity," he added.
Phivolcs chief Teresito Bacolcol, meanwhile, said the haze in Metro Manila and the thick vog in Taal were caused by thermal inversion, which causes particles to be suspended in the air due to the moist and the lack of wind movement.
It is important to note, Bacolcol said, that the vog situation has improved around Taal on Saturday morning.
He said, however that: "It will take years bago tuluyang mawala 'yung sulfur dioxide kasi as long as the volcano is spewing out sulfur dioxide, the threat of vog is always there... that is why we are telling people living in the Taal Volcano, they should always be prepared."