Disaster councils on 'blue' alert due to Mayon's rising unrest

By Connie Calipay

June 6, 2023, 5:31 pm

<p>Mayon Volcano <em>(PNA file photo)</em></p>

Mayon Volcano (PNA file photo)

LEGAZPI CITY – The Office of Civil Defense in Bicol (OCD-5) on Tuesday placed the Regional Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (RDRRMC) under a "blue alert" status after the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs) raised the alert level of Mayon Volcano in Albay from 1 (abnormal) to 2 (increasing unrest) on Monday.

Gremil Alexis Naz, OCD-5 spokesperson, said the Albay provincial DRRMC and other concerned local DRRMCs were directed to strictly monitor the activities of the volcano.

"Blue alert status means we increased coordination with the concerned local government units (LGUs), additional personnel was assigned to the emergency operations centers for possible threats and an official list of available assets was provided for deployment with their capabilities indicated," Naz said.

He also said OCD-5 regional director and Bicol DRRMC chairperson Claudio Yucot reminded LGUs concerned not to be complacent with the current status of Mayon Volcano.

"He wants to see contingency plans of the different LGUs in Albay, RD Yucot wants LGUs to be prepared from all levels," Naz said.

Legazpi City Mayor Geraldine Rosal on Monday issued a temporary suspension of all activities inside the 6-kilometer permanent danger zone (PDZ), particularly the all-terrain vehicle (ATV) rides as well as mountain climbing, hiking, and quarrying operations in connection in view of the raised status of the volcano.

"All the Barangay Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Committees (BDRRMC) along the slope of Mayon Volcano such as the villages of Buyoan, Mabinit, Matanag, Bogna and Padang should take all the precautionary measures and review their Barangay Contingency Plan for a volcanic eruption," the mayor's advisory read.

Rosal also said the residents living in valleys and active river channels are cautioned to remain vigilant against sediment-laden stream flows and lahars in the event of prolonged and heavy rainfall.

Phivolcs said there was a total of 318 rockfall events recorded by the Mayon Volcano since April 1.

Meanwhile, more than 3,000 displaced workers in the Bicol region have been provided with a means of livelihood through the Tulong Panghanapbuhay sa Ating Disadvantaged/Displaced Workers (TUPAD) program for May.

TUPAD is a project of the national government through the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) and is being implemented in the Bicol region with the help of Ako Bicol (AKB) Party-List Representative Elizaldy Co.

In an interview on Tuesday, Sally Luces, AKB media relations officer, said the program provided immediate assistance to the locals who are currently unemployed as a result of the pandemic.

"We (AKB) reaffirm its commitment to uplifting the lives of the underprivileged in the region by expanding the Tabang sa Kabuhayan Program. This initiative is designed to provide renewed hope and opportunities to individuals who have lost their jobs or have been adversely affected by the pandemic," Luces said.

She said the AKB team is now preparing for the orientation of beneficiaries for June.

"Rest assured that the six provinces in the Bicol region will be given livelihood assistance through our Tabang sa Kabuhayan Program in collaboration with government agencies," she said.

In Albay province, residents from the towns of Guinobatan and Jovellar, as well as individuals from Ligao, Oas, and Legazpi City, were among the recipients of the TUPAD program. In Sorsogon province, individuals from Donsol, Irosin and Sta. Magdalena towns were provided with the opportunity to earn a living again.

Residents of Goa and San Jose in Camarines Norte province were likewise given the chance to work under the said program. (PNA)