Only five barangays in Batangas remain on lockdown: military
Only five barangays in the province of Batangas remain on lockdown as the other residents affected by the Taal volcano erruption continued to return to their homes.
Brig. Gen. Marciliano Teofilo, Joint Task Force Taal Commander, confirmed that the lockdown in towns of Agoncillo and Laurel were lifted except on its five barangays within the seven kilometer danger zone.
"It (Agoncillo and Laurel) was also opened. The lockdown was removed except to the five barangays covered by seven kilometer danger zone," he said.
Teofilo said the lockdown within the municipalities of Agoncillo and Laurel except in the five barangays within the seven kilometer danger zone were just removed on Monday to prevent chaos among the returning evacauees.
The Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs) lowered the alert level on Taal Volcano from Four to Three on Sunday.
"Yes they can (go home- refering to residents of Agoncillo and Laurel), it was just declared earlier today because our purpose is to prevent from returning their all at the same time," he said.
"We decided to postpone (the return of those from Agoncillo and Laurel) to give ample time, because we are worried about the bulk number of evacuees returning to their homes since there are cracks on roads, there are fissures," he added.
However, Teofilo said there are residents who refuse to return to their houses.
"There are residents who refuse to return, especially in the area of Agoncillo and Laurel where their house, roof have collapsed. So they need help and this is now the thrust of the provincial government with the help of the national government, to rehabilatate, go construct houses so that we can relocate them," he said.
Teofilo failed to give the number of evacuees who remain at the evacuation centers as military forces are still assisting the movement of the returning evacuees and in clearing roads from obstructions.
National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) Executive Director Ricardo Jalad said as part of rehabilitation and recovery efforts the government may start to deploy personnel to conduct post disaster needs assesment in the areas where the lockdown was removed.
"The problem there is Taal Island. We're not allowed to enter there yet, so maybe we'll be using drones even in the lockdown area but outside of that we can already deploy personnel to assess the damage and needs and then next step after formulating the post disaster needs assesment is crafting the rehabilitation and recovery plan," he said.
Jalad said the crafting of rehabilitation and recovery plan may take two to three months. Robina Asido/DMS