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Lawmaker seeks probe on Taal Volcano info campaign, emergency response

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MEMBERS of the Philippine Coast Guard help in the evacuation of residents of Talisay and Laurel in Batangas, two of the towns most affected by the ashfall from Taal Volcano, on Jan. 14. — @COASTGUARDPH

A LEGISLATOR has filed a resolution seeking to conduct an investigation into the alleged “lack of dissemination of information” on the hazards of the Taal Volcano’s eruption. Rep. Elpidio F. Barzaga, Jr. of the 4th District of Cavite, one of the affected provinces, filed House Resolution 643 on Monday, which directs the appropriate House committee to probe if the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs) did a “comprehensive monitoring” on the active volcano. “Although we recognize the challenges of the Phivolcs, there should still be an investigation if it has conducted comprehensive monitoring, its use and availability of monitoring equipment and if it has the technical expertise to make a timely forecast of the Taal Volcano eruption” part of the resolution states. “To be sure, due to lack of information, in the afternoon of the same day, while Taal Volcano is already manifesting increased volcanic activity, people still traveled 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,” Mr. Barzaga said. Last Sunday, Phivolcs raised the alert level on Taal Volcano from 1 to 3 earlier in the day, then to 4 by evening, the second to the highest level. Mr. Barzaga also aims to determine the necessary improvements needed in the emergency response system of government agencies such as Phivolcs, Philippine National Police, Department of Social Welfare and Development, and the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council to reduce the risks of natural disasters. The Cavite lawmaker also wants to file appropriate charges against “unscrupulous persons” who raised the price of face masks, food and other supplies during the eruption. — Genshen L. Espedido





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