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Isko cuts town hall short in Batangas after Taal Volcano phreatomagmatic burst

SAN NICOLAS, Batangas — Presidential candidate and Manila Mayor Francisco “Isko” Moreno on Saturday cut his town hall meeting in the municipality of San Nicolas in Batangas short after Taal Volcano generated a short phreatomagmatic burst.

This raised the alert level of the volcano from 2 to 3, which means “magma is near or at the surface, and activity could lead to hazardous eruption in weeks.”

“Kahit na anong init nung pagtanggap nila sa akin eh bale-wala naman ‘yun kung itutuloy namin ‘yung kampanya na kung saan… magkaroon sila ng opportunity na makapaghanda para sa kanilang gamit at mahal sa buhay,” he said.

(Regardless of how warm their welcome is for me, it is more important they are given the opportunity to prepare their belongings and their loved ones.)

The Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology recommended the evacuation of residents in Taal Volcano Island and Barangays Bilibinwang and Banyaga in Agoncillo, and Boso-bobo, Gulod and eastern Bugaan East in Laurel.

“We’ll never know. Nature ‘yan eh. But ang pinakaimportante ngayon ‘yung buhay nila, kagamitan nila, kaysa ‘yung kampanya ko,” he said.

(That's nature. But the most important for now is their life, their belongings instead of my campaign.)

“Kanina sa entablado, nakisuyo ako sa kanilang lahat, kay Senator Ralph, kay Doc Willie, at ‘yung si ating Mayor, si Lester, na kung pupuwede i-cut short para makapagsalita na 'ko at nang mapauwi ko ‘yung mga tao,” he added.

(Earlier on stage, I asked them all, Senator Ralph [Recto], Doc Willie [Ong], and our mayor, Lester [De Sagun], if it is possible to cut short [the program] so I can talk to them and ask them to go home.]

The Aksyon Demokratiko bet said he was informed that San Nicolas is more than 10 kilometers away from the volcano.

“But just the same, just the same… modesty aside, always trying to be ahead of whatever worst case scenario. Marami pa namang araw para makakalap ng boto. Ang importante ngayon, protektado ang buhay,” Moreno said.

(There will be other days when we can court their votes. For now, what is important is their lives are protected.)

The mayor said his team will “play by ear” the rest of his campaign as they get farther away, when asked if he will suspend campaign activities due to the volcanic activity.


Meanwhile, Aksyon Demokratiko vice-presidential bet Dr. Willie Ong advised those with asthma, lung and heart diseases and recovered COVID-19 patients to evacuate early due to ashfall.

“Kahit hindi pa sinasabi na lumikas, kasi mahina na nga ‘yung baga natin, walang maintenance na gamot. Mas maganda lumayo-layo na baka maipit tayo,” Ong said.

(Even if there is no order to evacuate yet, it is best to move farther away because our lungs are weaker. There are no maintenance medicines. It would be better to move farther away before we get trapped.)

He advised the public to use the N95 mask or double mask, saying an ordinary surgical mask will not be enough.

Ong said the public must also close their doors and windows.

“Tapos ‘yung mga pagkain, huhugasan maigi. Kaya sa akin sa gobyerno dapat ready din tayo sa gamot at sa oxygen just in case maraming mahirapan sa baga sa panahon ngayon,” he said.

(As for food crops, make sure to rinse them well. In my opinion, the government should be ready with medicines and oxygen in case many will have lung problems.)

Manila ready

Moreno also said Manila is ready to lend aid.

“As you know, at least si Mayor na nagsabi, na alam nila na nu'ng kasagsagan nung Taal, we were here, we were here on first two hours. And DRRMM. We supply ng tubig… tangke-tangke lang. Tapos ‘yung mga ambulansya namin at saka gamot,” he said.

(As you know, at least the mayor himself said, that during the last eruption of Taal Volcano, we were here, we were here in the first two hours. And Disaster Risk Reduction and Management. We supplied water using tanks. Then we also brought ambulances and medicines.)

“We can do the same for purposes of humanitarian reason, we will help. Rest assured sa mga taga-Batangas, we will help in our own little way,” Moreno added. —KG, GMA News