Modular tents in Agoncillo were arranged in observance of social distancing. Source: Disaster Information Service-PIA

Concerned CALABARZON agencies and Batangas LGUs consolidated their response efforts as the Philippine Institute Volcanology and Seismology (PHIVOLCS) raised the Taal Volcano Alert to Level 3 amid the one-kilometer high short-lived dark phreatomagmatic plume and increasing level of sulfur dioxide emission on July 1.

The recent volcanic activities has prompted PHIVOLCS to prohibit entry in Taal Volcano Island and the high-risk barangays of Agoncillo (Barangays Banyaga and Bilibinwang) and Laurel (Barangays Gulod, Boso-Boso and Lakeshore Bugaan East) in Batangas and recommended the immediate evacuation due to possible hazards of pyroclastic density currents and volcanic tsunami.

Based on CALABARZON Regional Disaster Risk Reduction and Management situation reports, emergency operation centers, response cluster, and regional incident management teams were immediately activated to respond to the needs of affected families with the caveat that infection prevention and control is still observed.

As of July 5, a total of 1,719 families or 5,936 individuals within and outside the high risk barangays are evacuated either in evacuation centers or in their friends and relatives.

Philippine National Police (PNP)-Batangas has deployed lockdown checkpoints at Bugaan East in Laurel and Banyaga in Agoncillo, while PNP Maritime Batangas has provided assistance and security to evacuees. Futher, the PNP conducted regular patrols at evacuated barangays to safeguard properties of evacuees, while LGUs conduct animal feeding to animals left in the area.

Meanwhile, the Province of Batangas has continued to provide assistance to affected families in terms of relief goods, food, hygiene kits, family tents, and beddings and has activated its Mobile Community Kitchens.

Adherence to health protocols amidst COVID-19 is being implemented as isolation facilites are made available. In Agoncillo, social distancing was observed when modular evacuation tents were put up while one classroom-one family is implemented in Laurel to avoid overcrowding.

As of July 4, a total of almost PHP1.38 million assistance from local funds and donations have already been extended in terms of food packs and hygiene kits. Batangas Province is under the state of calamity since January 13, 2020.

Ben Patrick U. Soliguin, NEDA Region IV-A | July 6, 2021