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Businesses outside of Tagaytay danger zone may reopen, DILG clarifies

The Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) on Tuesday clarified that only eight barangays in Tagaytay City are covered by its mandatory evacuation, noting that businesses in other barangays may resume their operations. 

In a press statement, DILG spokesman Undersecretary Jonathan Malaya said these barangays include Bagong Tubig, Kaybagal South (Pob), Maharlika West, Sambong, San Jose, Silang Junction South, Maharlika East, and Tolentino East.

According to Malaya, the above-mentioned barangays were susceptible to base surge and volcanic tsunami.

"Let me clarify that it's not the entire Tagaytay City; but only eight of its barangays were included by PHIVOLCS as within the danger zone, so business establishments may reopen in other areas of the city," Malaya said.

The clarification came after DILG Undersecretary Epimaco Densing III had said commercial activities within the 14-kilometer danger zone around Taal Volcano remain prohibited.

“I’m very sure that we released a memo to the city mayor of Tagaytay that no commercial establishment shall continue to operate until and unless this issue of Alert Level 4 has been downgraded,” Densing had said.

Densing added that authorities would look into reports that some business establishments, including amusement park SkyRanch, resumed operations over the weekend.

Tagaytay is a popular destination among tourists due to its cool climate.

Meanwhile, Malaya noted that in the eight barangays, those located in the higher portion of the ridge may be allowed to reopen subject to the judgment of the local chief executive.

"Secretary [Eduardo] Año has decided that those located in the higher portion of the ridge which based on the PHIVOLCS hazard map have low risk may be allowed to reopen by the local government unit. So, it's subject to the discretion of the Mayor and she will be totally responsible," he said.

Malaya said the local government of Tagaytay City should review the PHIVOLCS hazard maps so that it will be properly guided in deciding which areas in the eight barangays are safe for businesses to reopen.

"We are not the scientific experts here, it's the DOST (Department of Science and Technology). We have requested the PHIVOLCS to issue the necessary written guidance to DILG on this matter," he said.

According to PHIVOLCS, Alert Level 4 is still in effect over Taal Volcano, meaning hazardous explosive eruption may possibly occur within hours to days.

The National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council has said a total of 271,278 residents in CALABARZON have been affected by the volcanic activity. —KBK, GMA News