Albay, Bicol — The provincial government of Albay has declared a state of calamity due to the increased activity of the Mayon Volcano. The declaration was made following the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology’s (PHIVOLCS) announcement that the alert level for the volcano had been raised to Alert Level 3. This level signifies an “increased tendency towards a hazardous eruption,” according to PHIVOLCS. The declaration of the state of calamity is expected to hasten the rescue, recovery, relief, and rehabilitation efforts of both the government and private sectors.

The state of calamity will also enable the government to control the prices of basic commodities and necessities to prevent exploitation and allow local government units to utilize appropriate funds for their disaster response measures. Albay Governor Edcel Greco Lagman suggested declaring the state of calamity to utilize the P42-million quick response fund during a special session of the Sangguniang Panlalawigan. The declaration gives Governor Lagman the authority to release and use the fund to respond to the crisis.

Meanwhile, authorities have started to evacuate around 10,000 individuals living within the four-kilometer radius permanent danger zone (PDZ) of Mayon Volcano, with the evacuation of 2,400 families already underway. An additional 390 families living outside of the PDZ in Barangay Misi in Daraga were also evacuated. The transfer is necessary because of an eruption that occurred in the area. There are farms located in the six to five-kilometer danger zone that the residents need to tend to. To prevent them from going back and forth, they were evacuated altogether.

However, some evacuees expressed concern over being moved to another location and shelter. The Municipal Social Welfare and Development Office (MSWD) explained that it was due to instructions from the evacuation committee, but MSWD Daraga’s Maricel Ordinario said they need to reconcile the evacuation plan to avoid further problems.

In case the alert level is elevated to Alert Level 4, Albay’s public safety officials said they would evacuate an additional 4,600 families or 16,000 individuals from the seven to eight-kilometer radius extended danger zone. The Philippine government has instructed its disaster management agency to prepare for the worst-case scenario, including the possible displacement of up to 900,000 residents within the extended danger zone.

The current situation in Albay highlights the importance of disaster preparedness and disaster risk reduction efforts in the country. The government, private sector, and communities must work together to mitigate the impact of natural disasters such as volcanic eruptions. By improving disaster response mechanisms, strengthening disaster preparedness measures, and educating communities on disaster prevention and mitigation strategies, the Philippines can better protect the lives, infrastructure, and livelihoods of its citizens.