After showing signs of unrest in the past few days, Malacañang Palace has kept a close eye on the Taal volcano and urged the public to immediately evacuate the area for safety. 

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque assured that they’re closely monitoring the situation in Taal through the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (PHIVOLCS). He added that the evacuation of residents near the active volcano has already taken place and is ongoing. 

“We are closely monitoring the situation in Taal after the phreatomagmatic eruptions that occurred in Taal Volcano,” Roque said during a virtual conference Friday (July 2). 

“Evacuation activities in high-risk barangays in Laurel and Agoncillo as well as in other nearby municipalities in Batangas province are ongoing,” he added.

So far, more than 14,000 residents living near Taal Lake have been relocated.

In preparation for the evacuees, the Department of Social Welfare and Development’s (DSWD) branch in Calabarzon has readied P1.4 million worth of food packs and P11 million worth of non-food items.

According to the Palace, the military’s Southern Luzon Command has been mobilized to assist the Regional Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Councils and local government units. 

Meanwhile, the Philippine Coast Guard is sending personnel and rescue vehicles to the region. 

Roque asked the residents of Taal to stay “vigilant, take precautionary measures, cooperate with their local authorities should the need for evacuation arise.”

On July 1, Taal volcano’s alert was raised to Level 3 on account of its phreatomagmatic eruption. 

In his speech the same day, President Rodrigo Duterte joked about the situation, noting he’ll just put a ‘cap’ on the crater. 

“Hindi ko malaman kung, dumaan man kami kanina, konti lang. Siguro lagyan ko lang ng cap, yung butas,” Duterte said. 

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Image credit: Ed Jones / AFP via Getty Images