Phivolcs monitoring 4 volcanoes with 'abnormal' conditions

Jaehwa Bernardo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Sep 29 2020 03:29 PM

Phivolcs monitoring 4 volcanoes with 'abnormal' conditions 1
Fishermen return to Taal Lake in Agoncillio, Batangas on January 30, 2020, days after residents were allowed to return within the 7-kilometer danger zone during window hours due to the downgrading of Taal Volcano's alert level. Mark Demayo, ABS-CBN News

MANILA — The Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology said Tuesday it was monitoring 4 volcanoes in the country for their "abnormal" conditions, even as the agency faced budget cuts under its proposed budget for next year.

The volcanoes include Taal in Batangas, Mayon in Albay, Bulusan in Sorsogon, and Kanlaon in Negros Island, Phivolcs Director Renato Solidum said during the Senate hearing of the Department of Science and Technology's (DOST) proposed 2021 budget.

"At Alert Level 1, all the 4 mentioned volcanoes earlier can actually have a steam-driven explosion... people then should not go inside their danger zones," said Solidum.

Taal has seen a decrease in activity since its steam-driven eruption last January but Phivolcs has seen a "slight change" in the past weeks, said Solidum.

"Nakita namin na namamaga ulit so we have to continuously monitor it," he said.

(We saw that it was inflating again so we have to continuously monitor it.)

"Mayon Volcano also is slightly again inflating from its base," Solidum added.

Taal's steam-driven eruption last January triggered an ash fall that reached parts of Metro Manila and nearby provinces.

The unrest also displaced hundreds of residents in the provinces of Batangas, Quezon, Laguna, and Cavite.

Budget cuts

But Solidum said the proposed budget cuts of Phivolcs would not affect the monitoring of the volcanoes.

"It will not affect the current monitoring of those [volcanoes]. The main issue is we will slow down in terms of modernizing or putting up more stations," Solidum said.

Government allotted over P462 million for Phivolcs under the proposed 2021 budget, down by P133 million from the previous year.

Solidum also said the budget cuts would affect projects aimed at "strengthening the tsunami awareness and resilience of communities."

Earthquakes and volcanic activity are not uncommon in the Philippines due to its position on the Pacific "Ring of Fire," where tectonic plates collide deep below the Earth's surface.