A portion of House Resolution 643 he authored stated a “need to have a pro-active and not a defensive response from Phivolcs, concerned government agencies and local government units with regard to their actions or inactions” to the latest Taal Volcano eruption.
The STAR/Boy Santos, File
House to probe Phivolcs’ lack of warning on Taal
Delon Porcalla (The Philippine Star) - January 15, 2020 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — While the House of Representatives recognizes the challenges faced by the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs), a senior administration lawmaker still wants an investigation on why it failed to inform the public about Taal Volcano’s imminent eruption. 

“There are no news bulletins or SMS alerts from Phivolcs and other concerned government agencies. Although it stated there was a warning of Level 1 since March 2019, there is clearly a lack of dissemination of information,” Rep. Elpidio Barzaga Jr. pointed out yesterday. 

The Dasmariñas City congressman from Cavite province noted that Phivolcs did not provide the “hazards of volcanic activity of Taal Volcano to the general public and more particularly to its nearby cities and municipalities of Cavite, Laguna and Batangas.” 

A portion of House Resolution 643 he authored stated a “need to have a pro-active and not a defensive response from Phivolcs, concerned government agencies and local government units (LGUs) with regard to their actions or inactions” to the latest Taal Volcano eruption. 

“To be sure, due to lack of information, while Taal is already manifesting increased volcanic activity, people still traveled towards it, while those who were already near were shocked to see the smoke spewing from it and had to immediately flee under the danger of ashfall.”  

The Barzaga resolution directed the appropriate committee in the House to conduct an investigation on why Phivolcs failed to inform the public as well as look into reports that several unscrupulous businessmen sold face masks at expensive prices. 

“Appropriate charges need to be filed against those unscrupulous persons who sold face masks and other food and supplies at an unreasonable cost,” he warned, noting there is an “imperative need” to determine improvements in the responses of the local and national government agencies. 

“There should also be an investigation on the permanent settlement in Taal Volcano when it has already been categorized as permanent danger zone posing a danger to themselves and rescue workers who also had to risk their own lives to move them,” Barzaga maintained.  

Congress earmarked P588.1 million for this year’s budget of the Phivolcs for the acquisition of equipment needed to upgrade its monitoring of potential disasters.  

House Majority Leader Martin Romualdez revealed that lawmakers decided to provide an additional P221.4 million to the original allotted P366.7 million for the agency tasked to monitor volcanic eruptions, earthquake and even tsunamis.  

“We do not fault the Philvolcs for the lack of adequate warnings on the impact of the phreatic explosion. We are aware that it is really difficult to predict the occurrence of volcanic eruption and related disasters,” the Leyte congressman said. 

“But this is precisely the reason why Congress increased the budget of Phivolcs for 2020. We need to upgrade the country’s monitoring and warning program for volcanic eruption, earthquake and tsunami,” Romualdez stressed.

TAAL VOLCANO
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