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No Mayon-related casualty yet -- Salceda clarifies

LEGAZPI CITY -- Albay Governor Joey Salceda has made it clear that the 62-year-old woman found dead in Barangay Lidong, Sto. Domingo, cannot be considered a casualty of Mayon's restive condition.

"Thus, we still have a zero casualty in relation to the abnormal activities the Mayon Volcano that is threatening to erupt," Salceda said Monday after receiving a final report from the police.

Senior Police Officer 1 Ronnie Llaneta, investigator-on-case of the Sto. Domingo Municipal Police Office, said that on Sept. 15, victim Josefina B. Gravito was reported to have been missing but was found dead at 3 p.m. on September 30 in a bushy area, about five kilometers away from their residence.

Llaneta said that based on his investigation, the victim would usually leave their house unnoticed by her family because she was suffering from senility.

He said that according to the attending physician, the victim had been dead for about 10 days already before she was found in the state of decomposition.

"According to our investigation, this was not the first time that the victim left their house and that she would usually come back home after three or four days,” the investigator said.

Salceda said it is unreasonable to consider Gravito's death a violation of the province's zero-casualty goal since there was no single Mayon hazardous event before Gravito's death.

“It’s a casualty if it happens directly when disaster occurs. We cannot say it is a Mayon-related casualty no matter how we try to extend the connection since there was no quake, ashfall and pyroclastic flow,” he explained.

The Albay chief executive clarified that the local government of Sto. Domingo started to evacuate residents only on Sept. 19, so it cannot be considered as incident related to Mayon Volcano's behavior.

“Zero casualty is not just a number -- it is a goal. It actually refers to a summation of commitments of a community to ensure that even during a calamity, no one is left behind to fall by the wayside due to poverty and even to stubbornness. It means identifying all those who can be impacted, move them out of harm's way and give them care till the hazard passes away,” he stressed.

Meanwhile, according to Eduardo Laguerta, resident volcanologist of the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology in Legazpi City, said in a media briefing Monday that Mayon has no other course but to erupt and warned residents around the volcano that "although there is no casualty yet, it's always better to be on alert and heed the advice of disaster officials, especially Salceda who is hooked to monitoring Mayon's activities every minute. (PNA) FFC/FGS/AMM/CBD/UTB

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