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Barzaga seeks inquiry on lack of Phivolcs warning before Taal explosion

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By JOHN CARLO M. CAHINHINAN

Cavite Rep. Elpidio “Pidi” Barzaga is seeking an inquiry over the alleged lack of appropriate public warning prior to the phreatic explosion of Taal Volcano last Sunday.

Barzaga, chair of House Committee on Environment and Natural Resources, said he is not setting aside the possibility that the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs) may have neglected its task to properly warn the residents near the vicinity of Taal of its impending explosion, considering that most of the affected residents “were taken by surprise.”

“Filipinos were taken by surprise by the recent Taal Volcano eruption wherein the losses in terms of life and property are still unaccounted for,” said Barzaga.

Barzaga noted that Taal Volcano was placed under Alert Level 1 since March 2019, yet it seems that it wasn’t properly disseminated to local residents living near Taal Lake.

“Although Phivolcs has stated that it raised a warning of Level 1 since March of 2019, there is clearly a lack of dissemination of information in the hazards of volcanic activity of Taal Volcano to the general public,” said Barzaga.

The Cavite solon also cited the lack of appropriate new bulletins and text message alerts from Phivolcs and National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) hours before Taal started its phreatic explosion on Sunday afternoon.

“There are no news bulletins or SMS alerts from Phivolcs and other concerned government agencies,” said Barzaga.

“While Taal Volcano is already manifesting increased volcanic activity, people still travelled towards it, while those who were already near Taal Volcano were shocked to see the smoke spewing from it and had to immediately flee under the dangers of ashfall,” he added.

Barzaga clarified that he is not blaming Phivolcs over the potential lapses it committed in informing the public over the seismic activities of Taal but rather to laydown legislations that will further improve and upgrade the agency’s capacity on disaster preparedness.

House Majority Floor Leader Ferdinand Martin Romualdez earlier urged Phivolcs to utilize its P221-million fund under the 2020 national budget in upgrading its capabilities by purchasing modern equipment that will help them enhance its warning system during volcanic eruptions or earthquakes.

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