Duterte open to declare Mayon's permanent danger zone as "no man's land"
President Rodrigo Duterte is mulling to declare as "no man's land" Mayon Volcano's 6-kilometer permanent danger zone so everytime it erupts, authorities would not have a hard time asking people to leave the place.
The possibility of totally preventing people from entering the permanent danger zone was brought up during Duterte's meeting with some Cabinet members and local officials of Albay on Monday.
Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana, also chair of the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council, proposed that the Mayon permanent danger zone be declared as a no man's land.
"There is a permanent danger zone. Why don't we declare that as a no man's land so that people will not go there anymore. Because everytime that the Mayon stopped (erupting, the people) go back there until the next explosion comes. We will always have this problem of evacuation," Lorenzana said, noting Mayon's frequent eruptions.
Lorenzana said once the area is declared as no man's land, this could also be declared as part of the Mayon Volcano's national park.
"We can let the trees grow. It can also be a buffer zone for future cascading of the lahars or any flooding that will come from volcano," he added.
Duterte said he was "in favor" of Lorenzana's proposal.
However, Duterte said the government needs to know first if the parcels of land within the permanent danger zone is titled.
"But the first question there is, are there properties privately-owned and titled to individuals? Because then we have to expropriate. That's the first consideration there," Duterte said.
If the parcel of lands were titled, he said the government would need a lot of persuasion, "which is a question of money."
According to the local government of Albay, in 2014 when Mayon had a major explosion, over 15,000 people from the 6-km permanent danger zone alone were affected.
At the same time, Duterte gave to the local government an initial P20 million fund plus P5 million from the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office.
"I’ll give you initially today 20 million (pesos) and I will augment it tomorrow by sending you about 50 (million pesos) for the operation for everything, for food, and I’m interested in the hygiene or sanitation of the place," he said. Celerina Monte/DMS