LEGAZPI CITY, Albay: The Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs) has extended the permanent danger zone (PDZ) around Mayon Volcano from six kilometers to 11 kilometers radius for the safety of residents.
Phivolcs senior resident volcanologist Ed Laguerta said the extension was made after learning that residents continue to go back to their houses despite the forced evacuation order. He also said some of the markers at the dangers zone were missing.
Laguerta said a team of geodetic engineers and geologists are now placing 213 temporary markers in the danger zone covering Albay’s five towns and three cities.
Laguerta said the new markers, which will help in evacuating residents should the volcano erupt, are just temporary. He said the provincial government of Albay will provide the permanent markers.
Cedric Daep, chief of Albay Public Safety Emergency and Management Office, requested for the new markers after Philippine Army soldiers using global positioning system (GPS) discovered that many of the evacuated residents are still in the danger zone. The residents even claimed they are not in the danger zone.
The soldiers also found that some of the markers have been moved forward. In the town of Malilipot, it was discovered that even the Calbayog Elementary School was built within 5.7 kilometers from the crater of the volcano or 300 meters away from the 6-km danger zone identified by Phivolcs.
Engr. Javier Rubis of the Albay Engineering Office recalled said the marker in Calbayog village was placed a few years ago upon the advice of former village chief Quirino Bolante.
Laguerta had earlier stated that Mayon’s restiveness is very different and an explosion may happen anytime because of a strong pressure beneath the volcano.
Mariton Bornas, Phivolcs volcano monitoring and eruption chief, said pyroclastic flow may hit even beyond the 6-km danger zone specifically with big explosion.
“When there is volcano eruption, pyroclastic flow might go beyond the 6-km danger zone even at smaller eruption. We are delineating 6-11 kilometers danger zone for local government units to remove the communities in no habitation areas. This is an issue for local government units and for them to identify resources to relocate the communities,” Bornas said.
Despite the risk, Mayon residents continue to return to their houses and work in the farms. They also managed to hide from patrolling government troops because they are more familiar with the area.
Meanwhile, the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) has released P61.5 million to the Albay government to boost relief operations in assisting evacuees.
The DBM said that as of October 21, the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRMMC) reported that 13,591 families or 58,012 people from 39 villages were affected by the impending Mayon eruption. A total of 11,698 families or 46,421 people are staying in 45 evacuation centers.
The DBM is also confident that the Albay government will be able to direct its relief operations with the appropriate support from the national government.
Based on the NDRMMC report, a total of P165 million assistance has been provided by different government agencies such as the Department of Social Welfare and Development and the Department of Health, as well as the Philippine Red Cross, non-governmental organizations, and the private sector.
“Meanwhile, we want to reassure the public that the National Budget can properly support contingencies like this. We have enough in the NDRRM and Quick Response Funds to draw on in the event of disasters, and our agencies and local governments are prepared to act quickly should an emergency arise,” said Budget Secretary Florencio Abad.
WITH MAYVELIN U. CARABALLO