Alert Level 4 still up over Mayon; donations pour in for evacuees

By Mar Serrano Arguelles

LEGAZPI CITY -- Mayon Volcano continues to be under Alert Level 4, over a month since it started its restive state, the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs) said.

Eduardo Laguerta, chief of Phivolcs in Bicol, said during the past 24-hour observation period, Mayon continued to show signs of sustained restiveness characterized by quiet lava effusion and degassing from the summit crater.

When asked about the possibility of lowering the volcano’s alert level from 4 to 3, he said that as long as there is still lava oozing out of the crater summit and other parameters for a possible imminent hazardous eruption to occur any time, Alert Level 4 remains in effect.

Mayon volcano has so far expelled more than 80 million cubic meters of molten lava for over a month, Laguerta said.

Phivolcs reiterates its warning to residents to keep out of the eight-kilometer-radius danger zone and to be extra vigilant for lahar flows along river channels during heavy rains.

Meanwhile, millions of pesos worth of donations from various private corporations and foundations keep pouring in as Mayon volcano continues to display its restive state, the Regional Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (RDRRMC) said.

Reports reaching the RDRRMC said several companies from the mining industry and a private foundation have stepped up efforts to assist thousands of displaced families that were housed in various evacuation centers of Albay province.

Claudio Yucot, regional director of the Office of Civil Defense (OCD) for Bicol and RDRRMC chairperson, in an interview on Monday said there are 17,329 families or 66,009 persons still seeking refuge in 61 evacuation centers in the towns of Malilipot, Bacacay, Santo Domingo, Daraga, Camalig, Guinobatan, and the cities of Tabaco, Ligao, and Legazpi.

Yucot said the national and local governments have spent a total of PHP325-million in assistance given to the thousands of families displaced by Mayon Volcano's eruption.

A total of PHP7.7 million worth of relief goods, shelter and medical supplies were donated by major mining companies to the evacuees, according to Marionne Ruiz, Public Affairs chief of Filminera Resource Corp. operating a mine in Aroroy town, Masbate.

Ruiz was tasked by the Chamber of Mines to coordinate with the Department of Environment and Natural Resources and the Department of Education (DepEd) for millions worth of relief assistance, including tents donated by 15 mining companies operating across the country.

Ruiz said the bulk of the contributions came from the Masbate Gold Project (MGP), which has a mine site in Aroroy.

The mining firm is the single largest investment in the province of Masbate. Its Social Development and Management Program (SDMP) has enabled Aroroy to transform from being a fourth-class town into a first-class municipality.

The two firms under MGP -- Filminera Resources Corp. and Philippine Gold Processing & Refining Corp. -- jointly donated 25 large military-grade tents that can each shelter up to 40 people to the DepEd regional office to be used as temporary classrooms.

Schools and classrooms in Legazpi are currently being used as evacuation centers.

The OCD report indicated that currently, there are 72,166 learners in 53 public schools who were affected by the evacuation as a result of Mayon volcano eruption.

The report said the DepEd was able to build 188 of the 196 Temporary Learning Spaces it needed to accommodate the thousands of elementary pupils whose regular classes were affected by the evacuation.

Aside from the tents, the MGP has also donated PHP3.5-million worth of relief goods to the evacuees.

Other mining companies which contributed include Orica Philippines Inc., Oceana Gold Phils. Inc., Philippine Nickel Industry, Carmen Copper Corporation, Mt. Labo Exploration & Develop Corporation, Rapu-Rapu Polymetallic Project, Mines and Geosciences Bureau Cordillera Administrative Region-Greenstone Resources Corporation, LNL Archipelago Minerals Inc., Central Luzon IEC, National Community Relations Practitioners of the Philippines, Carascal Nickel Corporation, Nickel Asia Corporation, and FCF Minerals.

The donations were mostly food packs, dust masks, hygiene kits, medicine, and clothes. (PNA)