The situation in Batangas and nearby provinces is not getting any better as the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (PHIVOLCS) yesterday afternoon raised the alert level to four which means an “explosive eruption” could be imminent. The highest alert level is five, meaning an eruption is ongoing. The agency has also issued total evacuation within 17-kilometer radius around the volcano, considered a volcanic danger zone with about half a million residents.
This wrath of nature, as science journalist Dr. Crispin Maslog would say, is unstoppable, but we can mitigate its impact and cost to human lives if we follow the advice of scientists and government agencies that are studying the phenomenon. This force majeure affects all of us, including those who are on their way in or out of the Philippines.
It is too early to make sense of the damage wrought by the eruption and the quakes that come with it, but the economic toll is very visible. Residents living in the periphery of Taal face uncertainty in the next few days or weeks, their economic life, education and other activities disrupted for how long we cannot tell. The ash fall has reached as far as Metro Manila which too will be affected to some degree.
What is glaring though are the flights that are cancelled across the country and abroad. The loss of economic opportunity could be staggering as there are thousands who are still waiting for their flights to arrive or depart. But again, we all have to bear this natural disaster and hope that the local government units as well as the national agencies concerned, have solid plans in the evacuation and rehabilitation of the cities and town affected by the eruption.
Disaster preparedness could not be overemphasized at this time.