MANILA – Philippine National Police (PNP) chief Gen. Guillermo Eleazar ordered the setting up of police assistance desks in evacuation centers where displaced residents of Batangas towns relocated due to seismic activities of Taal Volcano.
The latest data from the Batangas Police Provincial Office (PPO) indicated more than 1,600 evacuees are staying in at least 10 evacuation centers in the municipalities of Laurel, Talisay, Balete, and Agoncillo.
The PNP wants to address health and safety of evacuees because of the threat of the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19), with some fearing that evacuation centers could be a source of mass infection.
“I have already directed the Commander, Joint Task Force Covid-19 Shield, and the Regional Director of Police Region Office 4A (PRO-4A) to set up Police Assistance Desks in all the evacuation centers in Batangas to ensure that their security and health are assured 24/7,” Eleazar said in a statement on Saturday.
Eleazar said Covid-19 protocol officers will coordinate with local health offices of local government units to ensure minimum public health safety protocols.
Eleazar also lauded PRO-4A Director Brig. Gen Eliseo Cruz and Batangas PPO head Col. Glicerio Cansilao for conducting immediate evacuation and attending to other needs of affected residents.
Police personnel and other mobile assets are on standby in various locations while checkpoints are set up in strategic areas to prevent the return of local residents and deny access to tourists in declared danger zones.
Meanwhile, the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) has yet to record casualties directly related to Taal Volcano as of Friday night, Executive Director Ricardo Jalad said.
“Fortunately, there is still none yet. Hopefully we will not have any casualty,” he said in Filipino during a media briefing.
Jalad said 376 families, or about 1,495 persons, have been evacuated so far as per the data of the Calabarzon regional disaster management council.
There are also 46 families staying with their relatives in other towns.
Since Friday, Taal Volcano had recorded 48 volcanic earthquakes and three minor phreatomagmatic eruptions, according the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology’s Saturday morning bulletin. (With reports from Priam Nepomuceno/PNA)