Mayon’s status alerts emergency response teams in Bicol Region

By Connie Calipay


LEGAZPI CITY --- Bicol’s Regional Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (RDRRMC) has placed all disaster response offices on “standby status” after Mayon Volcano’s alert level status was raised from 1 (abnormal) to 2 (increasing unrest).


In a memorandum issued on Friday evening, Claudio Yucot, Office of Civil Defense (OCD) 5 (Bicol) director and Bicol DRRMC chairperson, said the standby status is in preparation for any response to Mayon Volcano’s activities.


“Response assets should be on standby to support response activities of provincial, city, and municipal DRRMOs (Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Offices), especially chokepoints along the 6-km. radius of the permanent danger zone (PDZ),” Yucot said.


The memorandum also reminded the public to conduct preparedness and response measures.


“Entry into the 6-km. radius PDZ must be strictly avoided due to the increase (in) chances of sudden steam-driven or phreatic eruption and the hazards of rockfalls, avalanches, and ash burst at the summit area that may occur without warning,” the memorandum read.


People living in valleys and active river channels are also cautioned to remain vigilant against lahar in case of prolonged and heavy rainfall.


In an interview on Saturday, Gremil Alexis Naz, OCD-5 spokesperson, said they are continuously monitoring Mayon’s activities and coordinating with Albay’s DRRMC.


“Local DRRMCs must issue relevant policies and advisories to the public regarding the Mayon activities. Reports of preparedness measures and any untoward incidents must be submitted to RDRRMC,” he said. (PNA)


Tight watch


The Phivolcs is continuously conducting close monitoring of the volcano after the alert level in the area was raised from 1 to 2 early this week after an aerial survey confirmed its growing summit dome.


Paul Alanis, Phivolcs resident volcanologist at the Lignon Hill Observatory here, reiterated to the public that going or staying inside the 6-kilometer radius permanent danger zone (PDZ) is strictly banned to anybody, particularly the farmers and mountain trekkers.


“We are on heightened monitoring of the abnormal parameters of Mayon now that its alert level is already elevated to two. We are also reiterating to the public not to enter inside the six kilometers permanent danger zone. It is really dangerous to have any activity in that area which has been declared a no man’s land,” Alanis told Bicol Mail.


Alanis apparently made the reiteration following reports that human activities, including camping and ATV (all-terrain vehicle) rides, remained in sight at the boundary of the 6-kl PDZ.


“Some local governments were not strict in banning entry inside the permanent danger zone in the past. But this time, we are urging them to follow the instruction,” he said.


Mayon is at the center of the cities of Legazpi, Ligao and Tabaco; and the towns of Daraga, Sto. Domingo, Bacacay, Malilipot, Guinobatan and Camalig.


Cedric Daep, chief of the Albay Public Safety and Emergency Management Office (Apsemo), said that they already scheduled meetings to review existing contingency plans pertaining to the eruption of Mayon.


“We are now reviewing our existing warning systems, protocols in communicating disaster messages, evacuation procedure, and the needs to immediately evacuate the threatened population,” Daep said.


The threat of another Mayon eruption is being echoed thru meetings, conferences, information caravan, and the mass media.


“We have to do all these preparations to ensure that we are prepared should the condition of Mayon worsen further,” Daep added.


Under alert level 2, Phivolcs reminded the public that there is current unrest driven by shallow magmatic processes that could eventually lead to phreatic eruptions or even precede hazardous magmatic eruption.


The state agency said that entry inside the PDZ is strictly prohibited to minimize risks from sudden explosions, rock-fall and landslides.


“In case of ash fall events that may affect communities downwind of Mayon’s crater, people should cover their nose and mouth with a damp, clean cloth, or dust mask,” Phivolcs added.


Mayon’s last major eruption was in 2018. (Cet Dematera)


DSWD assures assistance


The Department of Social Welfare Development in Bicol (DSWD-5) assured the local government units (LGUs) that will be affected by Mayon Volcano’s increasing unrest that the agency can provide food packs and non-food items.


Mary Gizelle Mesa, DSWD Bicol spokesperson, in an interview on Tuesday, said the agency has put on standby some 31,092 family food packs in different warehouses while another P6.2 million stockpile for repacking of additional family food packs in anticipation of augmentation.


Mesa said the P6.2 million stockpile composed of 52,900 kilograms of rice; 77,348 corned beef cans; sardines - 45,756 cans; tuna sardines - 52,396 cans; 3-in-1 coffee - 134,390 sachets; and cereal drink - 164,085 cans were packed good for 20,000 families.


On top of these, a PHP5-million standby fund is ready for additional purchase of food packs or any kits as needed.


DSWD Bicol also said one family food pack can provide food on the table for two days for a family of five members.


“We have requested an additional 15,000 family food packs and 7,000 non-food items from DSWD central office in Manila,” Mesa added.


DSWD Bicol said 47,282 non-food items are also on standby including at least 20 sets of tents, 3,338 boxes of sleeping kits, 2,292 boxes of family kits, 2,339 sets of hygiene kits, and 3,232 kitchen kits.


At least 16,688 malong (tube skirts), 1,140 laminated sacks, and 16,330 blankets are readied as well, Mesa added.


She said the early preparation of relief goods by their office is aimed at ensuring immediate resource augmentation in case Mayon’s alert status will be raised to level 3.


Mesa said DSWD Bicol chief Norman Laurio visited different evacuation centers in the towns of Guinobatan, Camalig, Sto. Domingo and Malilipot.


“He also attended coordination meetings with barangay captains in different high-risk villages in Albay,” she said