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DSWD Field Offices in Southern Tagalog, Bicol prepare for Taal, Mayon volcanic unrest

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Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) Secretary Rex Gatchalian on Monday directed the Field Offices in the Southern Tagalog and Bicol regions to prepare for the ongoing volcanic activities affecting Taal in Batangas and Mayon in Albay province.

“The concerned regional field offices have been directed to stockpile on their Family Food Packs and ensure that they have sufficient standby funds as part of the preparation for both the Taal and Mayon volcanic unrest,” the DSWD chief said.

Secretary Gatchalian specifically ordered the regional directors of DSWD Field Offices IV-A and V to get the “historic data” in their respective regions to include the number of families affected, number of municipalities affected and the duration of the volcanic unrest.

“The historic data will be very helpful in determining the approximate number of FFPs that needs to be stockpiled. It is very important to closely monitor the activities of the Taal and Mayon and updates be sent in real time,” the DSWD secretary told the regional directors.

The Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (PHIVOLCS) has observed “ongoing low-level activity” in Taal Volcano in Batangas province and said the volcano stays on Alert Level 1.

PHIVOLCS reminded that Taal Volcano is a permanent danger zone. It also observed a slight increase in sulfur dioxide emissions in the past two weeks.

On Monday (June 5) PHIVOLCS raised the alert level status of Mayon Volcano from Level 1 to Level 2 or “increasing unrest.”

In an advisory, PHIVOLCS said this means “there is current unrest driven by shallow magmatic processes that could eventually lead to phreatic eruptions or even precede hazardous magmatic eruption.” It observed that rockfall increased in frequency from an average of 5 events per day to 49 events per day from 5 a.m. of June 4, 2023 to 5 a.m. of June 5, 2023.

Due to this development, PHIVOLCS advised the public to remain vigilant and desist from entering the volcano’s six kilometer-radius Permanent Danger Zone (PDZ) to minimize risks from sudden explosions, rockfall and landslides.

DSWD Bicol Regional Director Norman Laurio reported to the Central Office that FO V has already alerted the provincial Quick Reaction Team (QRT) and the chiefs of the Municipal Action Teams, which is composed of DSWD staff from the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps), the Sustainable Livelihood Program (SLP) and Kapit-bisig Laban sa Kahirapan – Comprehensive and Integrated Delivery of Social Services(Kalahi-CIDSS).

“We have instructed the QRTs and the MATs to have close coordination with their respective LGUs (local government units) and provide updates if necessary. This afternoon, we will coordinate with PDRRMO (Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction Management Office) for any updates or advisory,” Director Laurio reported to the DSWD secretary.

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