MANILA - President Rodrigo Duterte said Tuesday he was “very satisfied” with government’s response to the rumbling Taal Volcano as he noted that no fatalities have been recorded since the eruption began Sunday.
Duterte, during a situation briefing on the government’s relief efforts in Batangas, congratulated local governments in the province for their “splendid response.”
“I am very satisfied with the response of everybody and the fact that no one was killed and no one is really very sick,” the President said.
“I’m happy that we responded well and that we’re here, especially the DSWD (Department of Social Welfare and Development) and the health authorities,” he added.
The President assured local officials that they could speak to members of his Cabinet “anytime” on state affairs.
As of early Tuesday morning, a total of 18,187 people in Southern Tagalog have been evacuated as Taal Volcano threatened a “hazardous” eruption in the next “hours or days,” the Office of Civil Defense said.
Thousands within the volcano’s 14-kilometer radius have been evacuated from their homes after Taal ejected gray ash and hot steam last Sunday.
Ashfall blanketed parts of Southern Tagalog, with the gray shower even reaching Metro Manila and Central Luzon.
Phivolcs director Renato Solidum on Tuesday warned that earthquakes and reported fissures or cracks on the ground are signs of the volcano’s unrest, which should not be taken lightly.
Amid emergency response efforts, Duterte quipped residents living near the volcano may have failed to make offerings to Taal, which could explain its unrest.
“Maybe you have failed to make some offerings there. You should go there and say a little prayer and offer something,” he said noting that “it was true then, it might be true now.”
Set in the center of a picturesque lake, Taal is one of the most active volcanoes in the Philippines with an eruption record of 34 times in the past 5 centuries.