Kanlaon Volcano

La Castellana under curfew amid water shortage after Kanlaon Volcano eruption

Erwin Delilan

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La Castellana under curfew amid water shortage after Kanlaon Volcano eruption

BASIC AID. Residents of Barangay Camandag in La Castellana town, Negros Occidental receive free drinking water sent by the Cadiz City government.

Cadiz City Information Office

(1st UPDATE) 'More than 80,000 residents in all our 13 barangays need drinking water,' says La Castellana, Negros Occidental Mayor Alme Rhummyla Nicor-Mangilimutan

BACOLOD, Philippines – The Negros Occidental town hardest hit by the June 3 Kanlaon Volcano eruption imposed a curfew as thousands of residents struggled to find drinking water due to high sulfur levels in their water sources.

“Water, please!” was the appeal of La Castellana Mayor Alme Rhummyla Nicor-Mangilimutan, pointing out that all sources of water for the town’s 13 barangays have been contaminated by sulfur following Monday night’s eruption on Negros Island.

“Drinking water is now our problem. More than 80,000 residents in all our 13 barangays need drinking water,” Nicor-Mangilimutan told Rappler on Thursday night, June 6.

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She issued Executive Order No. 024-026, imposing a daily curfew in the entire town from 9 pm to 4 am, effective Friday, June 7.

The only people exempted from the curfew are:

  • Government workers on duty during curfew hours
  • Workers of private and public offices whose shifts fall during curfew hours
  • Physicians, other medical personnel, and veterinarians who need to render emergency services
  • Workers of public utility companies conducting maintenance work

Negros Occidental Provincial Environment and Natural Resources Officer Joan Nathaniel Gerangaya said on Friday that all water springs in upper La Castellana were unfit for drinking due to high levels of sulfur.

Gerangaya said, “Only continuous rain can cause [their] natural healing.”

La Castellana has a local water water distribution utility that has been sourcing and treating water from upland areas.

Since after the eruption, the town has been mainly relying on drinking water donations from the provincial government, the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), and private entities, according to Nicor-Mangilimutan.

She cited the help of the local governments of Cadiz and Kabankalan cities, which immediately sent portable water stations with purifiers to the town.

More drinking water and other relief aid from the Philippine Red Cross (PRC) were underway, she said.

Clothing, Hat, Accessories
HELP. Army soldiers on Negros Island help in ongoing relief operations in La Castellana town for Kanlaon Volcano eruption victims. 303rd Infantry Brigade

Cadiz Mayor Salvador Escalante Jr. said the city government sent workers from the City Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (CDRRMC) to set up water refilling stations in barangays Mansalanao and Cabang-an in La Castellana after he learned that thousands were suffering due to a scarcity of drinking water.

According to the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) in Western Visayas, there are 330 families or about 1,285 individuals, staying in different evacuation centers in La Castellana as of June 6. There were also 69 families or 384 people who opted to stay with their relatives.

Nicor-Mangilimutan said the threat of more volcanic activity after Monday night’s eruption could displace more people, and she feared that the town’s P4.2-million disaster fund for this year wouldn’t be enough to help affected families, especially those in evacuation centers.

There are six evacuation centers in the town, including a Catholic church. 

Meanwhile, she also issued a memorandum ordering the town government’s officials and employees to refrain from granting interviews to avoid misinformation and prevent the spread of fake news.

Only the town’s police chief, disaster risk reduction and management office chief, and social welfare officer were authorized to speak to the media.

Military, NPA aid

Meanwhile, the Army’s 303rd Infantry Brigade has deployed troops to support disaster response efforts in Canlaon City, Negros Oriental, and La Castellana, Negros Occidental. The Negros Occidental Police Provincial Office (NOCPPO) has also dispatched over 100 officers to aid ongoing relief operations in La Castellana.

Brigadier General Orlando Edralin, commander of the 303rd Brigade, said, “The deployment of troops and assets includes evacuation assistance, security, and logistical support.” 

Military units involved in these efforts include the 62nd, 79th, and 94th Infantry Battalions, and the 542nd Engineering and Construction Battalion, and reserve units.

INSTRUCTIONS. Army medics receive instructions before deployment in La Castellana’s humanitarian mission. 303rd Infantry Brigade

Lieutenant Judesses Catalogo, NOCPPO spokesman, announced on Friday that additional forces, including the 2nd Police Mobile Force and 60 officers from NOCPPO headquarters, have been sent to aid people in the six evacuation centers in La Castellana. 

Catalogo confirmed that NOCPPO is continuously assessing the situation in La Castellana and is prepared to deploy additional forces from other towns and cities if needed.

Brigadier General Jack Wanky, Western Visayas police director, personally delivered food packs and rice to evacuees there a day earlier.

In an unexpected development, the Leonardo Panaligan Command of the New People’s Army (NPA) has committed to assisting affected residents. The rebel group’s spokesman, Ka JB Regalado, said they would prioritize those who are really in need. – Rappler.com

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