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Lacson calls out Duterte for making light of Taal unrest

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Lacson calls out Duterte for making light of Taal unrest
This composite photo shows Sen. Panfilo Lacson and President Rodrigo Duterte.
Senate PRIB / Joseph Vidal | Presidential Photo / King Rodriguez

MANILA, Philippines — A senator on Friday criticized President Rodrigo Duterte's cavalier remarks on the unrest in Taal Volcano, noting that thousands in the area have been forced to evacuate for fear of another eruption. 

Taal Volcano was placed under Alert Level 3 on Thursday after a short-lived phreatomagmatic eruption that generated a one-kilometer plume. It was followed in the evening by four short phreatomagmatic bursts that lasted no longer than two minutes and produced short jetted plumes. 

Asked about the matter that same day, Duterte joked: "Siguro lagyan ko lang ng cap iyong butas. Taal na 'yan (I'll probably place a cap on its crater. That Taal)." 

"Now is just —  it's just a rumbling and it's spewing —  I don't know if it's really the ashes," he said during the inauguration of the LRT Line 2 East Extension Project. "Apektado daw tayo (They say we are affected) but it's not really a grave concern for us at this time."

Authorities were conducting evacuation operations in the volcano island and high-risk barangays as he spoke.

When pressed about the matter again, Duterte said the Department of Social Welfare and Development was ready with aid and workers on the ground. 

"While people are panicking and serious evacuation work is ongoing in some Cavite and Batangas municipalities threatened by the eruption of Taal volcano, making fun of its deadly crater is not funny," Sen. Panfilo Lacson said on Twitter. 

"There should have been an assurance not to worry because the government is there to help you no matter what happens in Taal," he further told ABS-CBN's Teleradyo in an interview conducted in Filipino.

"To make light of the situation there seems inappropriate coming from the mouth of a president." 

In a message to reporters, National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council spokesperson Mark Timbal, citing the report of the disaster office in Batangas, said 345 families composed of 1,392 individuals have been evacuated.

In Laurel town, over 4,000 residents have been evacuated and brought to higher areas, Mayor Joan Amo told the same radio program.

State volcanologists warned Friday that magma rising toward the main crater of Taal Volcano in Batangas could cause an “explosive eruption.”  

However, Phivolcs Director Renato Solidum told Teleradryo that a major eruption is not expected at the moment although close monitoring is still needed due to the threat of magma rising to the surface.

— Bella Perez-Rubio with reports from Gaea Katreena Cabico 

PANFILO LACSON RODRIGO DUTERTE TAAL
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