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Mass decamping in Albay evacuation centers starts today

ALBAY-Some 7,000 evacuee families, which reside outside the six kilometer permanent danger zone, have begun their exodus back home today.

The Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs), however, has advised that those living within the 6-kilometer danger zone (PDZ) should be required to stay.

Phivolcs resident volcanologist Eduardo Laguerta said that although there is a significant decrease in the volcano’s activities, the possibility of a dangerous eruption is still imminent.

“This is the reason why we cannot upgrade or downgrade Mayon’s current alert level 3 status," he said as he briefed members of the Regional and Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council RDRRMC/PDRRMC) during the joint meeting at Camp Simeon Ola in Legazpi City.

Laguerta clarified, however, that the Philvolcs may issue a special advisory or Pre-alert Level 4 Advisory anytime if the behavior and temper of the volcano goes from bad to worse, in which case immediate re-evacuation will be ordered.

“The Provincial Government of Albay and its partners such as the Armed Forces of the Philippines, the Department of Health, the Department of Education and the Department of Social Welfare and Development, other NGOs and POs are always ready for any of such eventuality, “ PDRRMC chief Cedric Daep said.

He added that although the evacuees will be sent home, excluding those ordered to stay, all facilities, tents and temporary learning spaces in the evacuation centers will not be removed. Army trucks and rescue vehicles will  likewise be still on stand-by for any emergencies.

“Nothing will change in our strategies. The national government’s commitment and assistance will not be affected. Everything stays,” said Director Bernardo Alejandro of the Office of Civil Defense (OCD) - Bicol.

Once the concerned local government Units (LGUs) submit the list of the identified families in the 6-km PDZ, the Council will meet immediately for the approval of the measure to issue formal order of strategic decampment.

Families to be left in the evacuation center will be selected following some parameters such as their location, the terrain of the area, and their proximity to danger zones.

As of November 3, the Regional Office of the DSWD has reported that the agency has already given almost 100 million total cost of assistance, including those from LGUs.

He adds: “[a]nd if the projected 90 days will be maximized, the cost may balloon to almost 229 million.”

For its Zero-Casualty and Pre-empted Evacuation Strategy goal and upon Phivolcs’ advice, Gov. Joey Sarte Salceda ordered the immediate evacuation of almost 12,000 families living around Mayon’s 6-km PDZ and Extended Danger Zones(EDZ) which are now housed in 49 evacuation centers provincewide.

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