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Bicol cops on heightened alert

June 13, 2023 Alfred P. Dalizon 153 views

Amid Mayon unrest

THE entire Police Regional Office (PRO) 5 in the Bicol region was placed on heightened alert on Monday amid the continuing restiveness being shown by Mayon Volcano, which according to state volcanologists, could last for a few months.

On orders of Philippine National Police (PNP) chief General Benjamin C. Acorda Jr., the PRO5 headed by Brigadier Gen. Westrimundo D. Obinque was instructed to be “ready for deployment” in areas where their assistance is needed.

As of press time, a total of 253 Bicol police officers have already been deployed in the affected areas to help secure 3,759 families composed of 13,523 local residents who have evacuated to 21 government-run shelters.

The evacuees come from 22 barangays in seven municipalities in Albay province.

All available PRO5 search-and-rescue (SAR) equipment, including a desalination truck, 21 patrol jeeps and three personnel/troop carriers, as well as 20 generator sets, have been readied for deployment in the affected areas, said Obinque.

So far, there have been no reported deaths or injuries in the province as a result of the Mount Mayon rumblings, the official added. There was also a “zero looting” incident owing to the stepped-up police security measures in the area.

Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs) classified Mayon Volcano under Alert Level 3 last Thursday due to “potential explosive activity” happening within days or weeks.

The Albay provincial government had already expressed its readiness to evacuate more residents even in the weeks to come.

“Currently, we are looking at a 90-day evacuation,” said Eugene Escobar, the Officer-in-Charge (OIC) of Albay Public Safety and Emergency Management Office, in a television interview.

Authorities have widened the evacuation area in Albay as lava begins to flow from Mayon’s crater.

They also advised residents inside the seven-kilometer extended danger zone to prepare for possible evacuation, which will be undertaken by the local police, the military, local government units (LGUs) and other concerned government agencies.