By Martin Sadongdong
Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs) Director Renato Solidum maintained on Monday that the threat of an explosive eruption of Taal volcano “remains” in response to the claims of a local government official of Batangas that he is exaggerating the situation.
Solidum said this after he led a late afternoon meeting of the Taal eruption’s response cluster at the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) Building in Camp Aguinaldo, Quezon City, on Monday.
Earlier in the day, Talisay Vice Mayor Charlie Natanauan criticized Solidum in a radio interview over his volcano alert warnings as the local official wants residents to be allowed to go back to their houses despite the Alert Level 4 hoisted over Taal.
“Masyado niyang ano eh, sabi niya mas malakas ang puputok na susunod, nag-iipon lamang. Opinyon niya ‘yon (He’s [exaggerating] things, he said the next eruption will be more powerful, the volcano is just recharging. That’s his opinion),” Natanauan said over DZMM.
“Wala pang nakapredict sa buong mundo kahit scientist sa pagputok ng bulkan. Bakit naman nasabi niya, siya ba ay Diyos (Nobody in the whole world, not even a scientist, has predicted the eruption of a volcano. Why is he saying those things, is he God?)?”
When asked about the matter, Solidum replied, “Should I react? Do you want me to react? I’m just commenting on the basis of the observations. I think you know all the details.”
He explained that magma beneath the volcano has risen to the surface and is being erupted by Taal. “It is still there and still moving,” Solidum said matter-of-factly.
The country’s top volcanologist also said that magma is being “recharged” beneath the volcano.
“So the threat is there and the fact is, Taal can have various explosions. People on the island can be affected suddenly by a steam-generated explosion. But if there is a rapid ascent of magma towards Taal, then there can be a larger eruption,” Solidum said.
“I’m not saying it is 100 percent [sure] that it will explosively erupt to produce base surges, but the threat is there.”
Alert Level 4 is still raised over Taal as of Monday night, which means a hazardous eruption is still possible within hours or days.
Meanwhile, several businesses in Tagaytay City were considering re-opening despite some barangays being included within the 14-kilometer danger zone. Solidum refused to comment on whether it is safe for the businesses in Tagaytay City to resume operations.
Instead, he said, “There are barangays in Tagaytay within the 14-kilometer danger zone from the volcano but they are below the Tagaytay Ridge. If you look at the map, ‘yung ridge and beyond hindi kasama sa (the ridge and beyond are not included) to be affected by the base surge.
“Ang maaapektuhan lang sa Tagaytay ay ‘yung nasa (The only areas that will be affected in Tagaytay City are those located in the) wall below the ridge and not on top.”