The Office of Civil Defense (OCD) has ordered its offices in the Bicol region and Calabarzon to heighten their monitoring activities and to coordinate with their respective communities amid the increased activity from Mayon and Taal volcanoes.
Civil Defense Administrator and National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) Executive Director, Undersecretary Ariel Nepomuceno said the OCD is coordinating with the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs) and other government agencies in its continuous monitoring.
“We are coordinating with Phivolcs on the volcanic activities of Mayon and Taal as well as with the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, Department of Health, and our counterparts in
Bicol Region and Calabarzon for interventions that need to be implemented,” Nepomuceno said.
“Mayon Volcano is now at alert level 3. We call on the communities in the area to always follow the warnings and orders of authorities such as the evacuation inside the six-kilometer radius Permanent Danger Zone or PDZ. This is due to the danger of pyroclastic density currents, lava flows, rockfalls, and other volcanic hazards in Mayon Volcano,” he said.
But Phivolcs on Friday said it was safe to visit scenic Albay province and Taal town in Batangas during the June 10 to 12 long weekend, despite the unrest of both Taal and Mayon volcanoes.
Phivolcs officer-in-charge Teresito Bacolcol said the public should wear face masks if they decide to go to Taal due to the presence of volcanic smog, which has reached the towns of Laurel, Talisay, and Agoncillo in Batangas.
“It’s safe as long as we protect ourselves by wearing face masks,” Bacolcol said in Filipino. “We are used to wearing face masks because of the pandemic. So let us wear face masks to protect ourselves from the volcanic smog.”
People visiting Albay, on the other hand, must avoid the six-kilometer permanent danger zone around Mayon, Bacolcol said.
“It’s safe to go to Albay as long as they don’t enter the permanent danger zones,” he added.
The Phivolcs chief reminded the public that permanent danger zones could be expanded if the alert status of Mayon went up.
Meanwhile, Phivolcs said volcanic activity in Mt. Kanlaon in Negros may be pointing towards higher chances of a phreatic eruption.
The volcano has been under Alert Level 1 since 2020 due to an increase in low-frequency volcanic earthquakes.
Based on its latest monitoring, Phivolcs has observed at least three volcanic earthquakes, with the volcano’s edifice inflated. On Monday, Kanlaon also emitted over 1,000 tons of sulfur dioxide.
Phivolcs Chief Science Research Specialist Maria Antonia Bornas said that while magmatic eruptions are still more dangerous than phreatic eruptions, they can still be worrisome.
“The problem with phreatic eruptions is that many such eruptions occur without precursory signals. In recent years, phreatic eruptions have killed more than magmatic eruptions,” she said.
During Kanlaon’s phreatic eruption in 1996, three people were killed after being hit by volcanic debris.