LA CASTELLANA Mayor Rhumyla Nicor-Mangilimutan said on Wednesday, March 21, their local Disaster Risk Reduction Management Office (DRRMO) team, along with the barangay disaster offices and community-based rescue volunteers, is ready to respond to emergencies in case the reported restiveness of Mount Kanlaon becomes inevitable and irreversible.
She said that the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs), which is based in their town, constantly updates her office regarding the seismic activity of Mount Kanlaon which remained at Alert Level 2.
Despite its alert level, the situation is still considered normal by the people there but they don't want to be complacent, she said, adding they have strengthened their emergency readiness and preparedness.
She said their rescue teams and volunteers underwent refresher course on emergency response just recently.
Phivolcs earlier noted that the seismic activities of Mount Kanlaon are quite similar to Mount Mayon prior to its eruption.
Mangilimutan said she had a standing request to the national and provincial governments to help them acquire heavy equipment and dump trucks which are necessary to clear eruption debris and convey people their important belongings, livestock and other goods during emergency cases.
The P10-million access road in Sitio Buragwak to Sitio Antipulay in Barangay Cabagna-an is already passable, she said.
"We also have handheld radios, a hotline, and the evacuation center worth P7 million which will be completed soon,” she said, adding it’s part of their early preparation.
She also signed a memorandum of understanding with all the public schools in the area that they can use the covered courts as temporary evacuation centers for people who will be affected by the volcanic eruption.
"We cannot be certain if indeed it will erupt. Only nature can tell if the reported eruption will happen. A lot of people has, in fact, heightened their interests when Mount Mayon erupted. Tourist influx increased. But that is its positive turnout in the face of a disaster," she said.
She just wants the national and provincial governments will help them, including other local government units that are within the volcanic belt because other towns and cities also lack this heavy equipment and dump trucks.
Under the procurement law, Class A municipalities like La Castellana are no longer allowed to purchase second-hand heavy equipment and dump trucks or any vehicles. It needs to be brand new. But the calamity fund of La Castellana can only afford one dump truck, which is it not enough.
Moreover, she asked her people especially in the five barangays that are considered danger zones to take precautionary measures and inform her office or the nearest authority in case they have noticed unusual situations that are related to Mount Kanlaon, an active volcano that straddles the provinces of Negros Occidental and Negros Oriental.