Talisay vice mayor encourages residents to return home despite lockdown

BATANGAS, Philippines – Despite being inside the 14-kilometer danger zone, the Vice Mayor of Talisay town in Batangas is encouraging residents to return to their homes and start cleaning up. 

Vice Mayor Charlie Natanauan said he, in fact, already went home to their house inside the municipality where he has lived all his life because he believes the volcano is calming down. (FAST FACTS: What you should know about Taal Volcano)

“Noong 1965 malakas noon, may lava pero ngayon gabok lang. Ibig sabihin sumingaw lang after 50 years. Ang prediction naman ng Phivolcs ay gunaw. Kung malakas ito dapat nag produce ng malaking hukay, pero hindi nag produce ng lava dahil mahina ang heat. Sa aking pananaw... Scientist sila (Phivolcs) pero wala naman naka-detect noong pumutok ah,” he said. (FAST FACTS: Taal Volcano alert levels)

(Back in 1965, that was strong; it had lava, but now it's just ash. That just means it's just blowing off steam after 50 years. Phivolcs, meanwhile, predicts the end. If this was a strong one, then it would have made large holes, but it didn't even produce lava because of low heat. In my view, they may be scientists but they couldn't even detect when it blew up.)

He said he will allow residents to return to their homes so they can start cleaning up and resuming their normal lives, despite warnings from other authorities that he may be held liable under the law.

“Hinihikayat ko na bumalik na kayo at maglinis. E di kasuhan nila ako pag pumutok at kasama na rin naman ako sa mga mamamatay. Kaya ba nilang kupkupin ang populasyon naming 70,000 sa mahabang panahon? Lasa ko’y hindi, ang iba nga ay nagugutom na,” he lamented.

(I urge you to come back and clean up. They can sue me if the volcano erupts; I'll be one of the dead anyway. Can they take care of a population of 70,000 for an extended period? I don't think so; some are already going hungry.)

He said 30% of their local economy has been affected by the threat but their fish cages in Talisay have not been damaged.

"Ang naapektuhan sa Agoncillo at yung talagang sa harap ng bulkan dahil sa net nila sumama ang mga grabita, pag napuno ang net lulubog kasama ang isda. Sa amin kakaunti at alikabok lang kaya hindi lumubog ang net,” Natanauan said. (Those affected in Agoncillo and those in front of the volcano would lose their nets as they'd sink with the oncoming gravel. In our area, the dust isn't so bad, so the nets wouldn't sink.)

 He also assured the public that it is safe to eat tilapia from the lake.

“Hindi ako naniniwala na hindi ligtas kainin, buhay nga hinuli, kami nga ngayon ay nag-iihaw ng huli. Ang tilapia nga naka survive, e ang tao pa. Kung nakakain ng sulfur (ang tilapia) e di patay na lahat,” he added.

 (I don't believe they're unsafe for consumption. They were caught alive, and we've been cooking the catch. If the tilapia can survive, what more the people? If the tilapia ate sulfur, everyone would be dead.)

Meanwhile, Batangas Governor Hermilando Mandanas stood firm on the implementation of lock-down in all affected towns, but gave the mayors leeway to decide on implementing "window hours" for their respective constituents.

 "Ang sa akin ay total lockdown. (For me it's a total lockdown.) Now if the mayors allow them then its their responsibility" he said.

The window hours had allowed residents of some towns to retrieve their belongings and livestock, despite the possibility of a "hazardous explosive eruption" within hours to days.

 Mandanas admitted that he too asked permission from the mayor of Taal to allow his cousin to be buried in their municipal cemetery.

"There's always an exemption, but you should always be ready to take all the responsibility, whatever happens" he added. – Rappler.com