President Rodrigo Duterte on Wednesday ordered the withdrawal of policemen and soldiers deployed in communities affected by the eruption of Taal Volcano.
Duterte said the lungs of the policemen and military men, who have been tasked to prevent residents from trying to return to their homes inside the danger zone, were already filled with ash spewed by the volcano.
“I’m withdrawing my police. They have been there for so many weeks already. Puno na ‘yung lungs nila ng abo. Kaawa naman,” he said in a speech at the 69th anniversary of the Department of Social Welfare and Development in Quezon City.
“Withdraw na lang ninyo ‘yung Army kasi kawawa. They are also human beings and they suffer. And when they suffer, they have also families to worry as just as much the guys are worried there.”
Duterte said it would be up to the local police and local government units to enforce the restrictions.
“Ngayon, kung gusto nila talagang magpilit na pumunta eh di sige. Kung gusto ninyong tumalon sa cauldron of fire and lava, go ahead. Make it short,” Duterte said.
Two weeks after Taal Volcano first had a phreatic eruption on January 12, the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology on Sunday downgraded the status from Alert Level 4 to Alert Level 3.
With the lowered alert level, the Batangas provincial government gave the evacuees the option to return home—except six barangays in Agoncillo and Laurel which are still within the danger zone—in serious consideration of possible hazards.
Batangas Governor Hermilando Mandanas, however, later advised his constituents to remain at evacuation centers.
“Sufficient food, water, clothing, medicines, and other personal hygienic needs are all available in evacuation facilities,” he said on Tuesday. —NB, GMA News