Negros Occidental

12,000 residents defy evacuation order amid Kanlaon Volcano threat

Erwin Delilan

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12,000 residents defy evacuation order amid Kanlaon Volcano threat

AT RISK. La Castellana Mayor Alme Rhummyla Nicor-Mangilimutan points to a hazard map indicating that four villages within the permanent danger zone, housing around 12,000 residents, remain at risk due to the increasing activity of Kanlaon Volcano on Negros Island.

Erwin Delilan/Rappler

Thousands are reluctant to evacuate because of their indigenous beliefs and economic concerns, says La Castellana Mayor Alme Rhummyla Nicor-Mangilimutan

NEGROS OCCIDENTAL, Philippines – Some 12,000 people living within the government-declared four-kilometer permanent danger zone of Kanlaon Volcano have refused to leave their homes despite warnings and an evacuation order from the local government.

12,000 residents defy evacuation order amid Kanlaon Volcano threat

La Castellana Mayor Alme Rhummyla Nicor-Mangilimutan identified two primary reasons for residents’ reluctance to evacuate: indigenous beliefs and economic concerns. 

“They believe they will not be in danger until the wild animals become restless. Economically, they fear leaving behind their homes, farms, and animals,” Mangilimutan said.

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She told Rappler on Saturday, June 8, that around 2,600 households or about 12,000 residents, are still staying in four villages within the danger zone in La Castellana alone despite a mandatory evacuation order issued by the town government.

The villages under threat from potential lahar flows and another possible eruption include Masulog, Biak na Bato, Cabagna-an, and Mansalanao. Nearby barangays Sag-ang, Camandag, Manghanoy, Cabacungan, and Puso are also at risk.

”In a worst-case scenario, we cannot afford to evacuate them all. We lack the capability and facilities. So, I really want a forced evacuation now for these people to really ensure their safety once and for all,” Mangilimutan said.

Raul Fernandez, director of the Office of Civil Defense (OCD) in Western Visayas, said on Sunday, June 9, they were helping the local governments in Negros Occidental in managing the crisis and coordinating response efforts.

The Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (PHIVOLCS) said it recorded on Saturday alone at least 17 volcanic earthquakes, accompanied by sulfur dioxide emissions at a rate of 4,397 tons per day. It also observed moderate steaming with plumes reaching up to 500 meters, along with ground deformation indicating magma intrusion beneath the volcano.

Clothing, Pants, Adult
AID. Policemen help in the unloading of rice and food packs donated for the La Castellana, Negros Occidental evacuees. Erwin Delilan/Rappler

John de Asis, chief of the La Castellana Municipal Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (MDRRMC), said 3,633 people or 972 families have sought refuge in eight evacuation centers in the town as of Saturday. Others have evacuated and were staying with their relatives and friends in neighboring areas such as Isabela, Moises Padilla, and various cities.

Jocelyn Estremadura, a 64-year-old evacuee from Barangay Cabagna-an, said she was looking forward to returning home. 

“We have enough food and water, but it’s different from being at home,” she told Rappler.

Officials said the evacuees still need more supplies of food, medicine, hygiene kits, and nebulizers for those with respiratory illnesses.

The OCD said it would be sending a water filtration team from Manila to Bacolod to process 50,000 liters of drinking water daily in response to reports about the contamination of natural water sources

Binalbagan Mayor Alejandro Mirasol advised residents against consuming fish from Binalbagan River due to high sulfur levels. 

Joan Nathaniel Gerangaya, chief of the Negros Occidental Provincial Environment and Natural Resources Office (PENRO), said they were hoping for more rain to naturally mitigate the sulfur contamination in water sources.

The OCD has also appealed for additional resources, including mobile water treatment systems and various supplies such as personal protective equipment, water and wash kits, sleeping kits, and modular kitchens.

The Philippine Veterinary Association in Western Visayas and the Philippine Animal Welfare Society (PAWS) has also appealed for help in rescuing and protecting animals affected by the eruption and ashfall.

Meanwhile, the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) implemented a 60-day price freeze on basic necessities in La Castellana starting Friday, June 7. 

The DTI order, however, does not cover agricultural products, which fall under the Department of Agriculture’s jurisdiction. The price freeze also applies to LPG cylinders and kerosene until June 18, following a state of calamity declaration. –

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