By Celso Amo
LEGAZPI CITY --- President Rodrigo Duterte on board a helicopter Monday afternoon hovered towards Mayon Volcano during an aerial inspection to see for himself the majestic and terrifying beauty of Albay’s famous icon that is known internationally.
But the President saw only cloudy skies over the volcano adoringly called by Bicolanos as Daragang Magayon.
He arrived at Camp General Simeon Ola here at about 3:51 p.m. and immediately presided over the situation briefing.
Duterte said he was anxious to see Mayon’s ongoing eruption despite the risk of getting closer to the 2,462-meter volcano spewing lava above the crater because all that he saw were those from the Facebook postings of Albay Rep. Joey Sarte Salceda.
“Bahala na mahulog. I will try to stay awhile maybe until 6:00 o’clock, and see if I can have a view of the lava, because all what I saw on Mayon was posted by you Joey,” the President said during a meeting with Albay Gov. Al Francis Bichara, local and national government officials to find out how adequate the government’s response to the needs of Mayon evacuees was.
“Ikaw yung prolific from the Facebook. All what we saw about Mayon came from your postings,” he added referring to Salceda.
He asked Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs) Director Renato Solidum if it is safe to get closer to the erupting volcano and whether it is still on fire.
Solidum said the lava continues to flow from the crater which can be seen at night if the weather is clear.
“There’s no explosion but only thick clouds covering the volcano,” Solidum told the President.
President Duterte said the initial amount of P25M that he gave to the provincial government of Albay could be used to provide the food and sanitation needs of the evacuees.
Bichara said his priority is to ensure that the 22,000 families in the evacuation centers will have their regular supply of food.
He added that most of the money [received] will go the National Food Authority.