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Nation

Albay suspends Mayon sediment picking ban

Cet Dematera - The Philippine Star

LEGAZPI CITY, Philippines — Residents living near water tributaries cascading down Mayon in Albay may again pick or collect sediments such as sand, gravel and rocks spewed by the volcano, which they can sell to earn income.

This developed after Gov. Noel Rosal suspended a local ordinance banning such activity in villages surrounding Mayon.

For several years, picking of sediments that flowed downstream from Mayon through gullies and river channels were limited to legal quarry operators.

With the suspension, villagers are now allowed to collect for free up to two cubic meters of sediments per day.

“We will come up with specific regulations for these small pickers. But meantime, we will allow them to pick sand or gravel for up to two cubic meters only,” Rosal said.

Picking sediments has been a source of livelihood for residents living near gullies and river channels cascading down Mayon.

Some of the waterways that move volcanic materials from Mayon are Bunga and Padang in Legazpi City, Basud in Sto. Domingo, Bulawan in Malilipot, San Vicente and Buang in Tabaco City; Nasisi in Ligao, Masarawag in Guinobatan, Quirangay and Sua in Camalig, Miisi and Budiao in Daraga and Bonga in Bacacay.

Couple Genny and Raul Roxas of Legazpi City were happy to know they could again pick rocks and gravel for free.

They said they earn P500 to P1,000 a day from selling their haul to hollow block makers.

Cedric Daep, chief of the Albay public safety and emergency management office, said sediment picking helps prevent the formation of silt in gullies and river channels.

Taal remains active

Meanwhile, in Batangas, seismologists recorded no earthquakes around Taal from Saturday to Sunday, but the volcano continued to show activity.

The Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs) said voluminous emissions drifting south-southwest reached 2,100 meters high.

Taal sulfur dioxide releases average at 3,945 tons per day with an upwelling of hot volcanic fluids in the main crater lake, Phivolcs said.

It said a slight inflation of the Taal Volcano Island and the western Taal caldera, and a deflation in the eastern caldera have been recorded.

Taal Volcano remains under Alert Level 1 or low level of unrest, which means entry into its permanent danger zone, especially the main crater and Daang Kastila fissures is not allowed.

Any activity in Taal Lake and flying of aircraft close to the volcano are prohibited as sudden stream-driven phreatic eruptions can occur without warning.

Meanwhile, the Archdiocese of Lipa is asking for donations of N-95 masks, which will be distributed to residents living near Taal Volcano.

The donation is meant to help residents protect themselves from the harmful effects of sulfur dioxide emissions from Taal.

Donations may be sent through Union Bank, LASAC: 0026-6000-4062 or GCash number 09665726244-Jayson Siapco. – Michael Punongbayan, Evelyn Macairan

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