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Phivolcs monitoring 'abnormal' conditions in 4 volcanoes

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, September 29) — The Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs) said it is monitoring four volcanoes exhibiting ‘abnormal' behavior.


These include the Taal Volcano in Batangas, Mayon Volcano in Albay, Bulusan Volcano in Sorsogon, and Kanlaon Volcano in Negros Island.

During the Department of Science and Technology’s (DOST) Senate budget hearing on Tuesday, Phivolcs Officer-in-Charge Undersecretary Renato Solidum said Taal Volcano has shown trends of decreasing activity from January to March, but has started to swell again due to pressure.


Solidum said they are also closely monitoring Mayon Volcano, which is slightly inflating at its base.


“Nonetheless, at alert level 1, all the four mentioned volcanoes can have a steam-driven explosion,” Solidum clarified.

He explained that magma can boil up water and cause so-called phreatic explosions. As a precaution, people will be prohibited from enteringg danger zones.


Senators expressed concern over the ₱133-million disapproved budget of Phivolcs for 2021. Solidum assured them that the disapproved budget items will not affect their monitoring of volcanoes, but it will affect the IT system and modernization of the agency’s stations in the regions.


“As you know, many of the monitoring systems now are directly supported by IT," Solidum said. "Even if you have sensors, these will be operated and maintained and operated by IT equipment and those were taken away."

Other projects that failed to get funding were the strengthening of tsunami awareness and the resilience of communities.


Meanwhile, the DOST and senators agreed the department's budget for research and development in 2021 is not enough.


The DOST has a total budget of P23.89 billion, but it received a ₱76-million budget cut for its research and development programs.

Senators assured the DOST that they will work on returning some of the slashed budget to fund the department’s priority projects, including research and development projects for grants and aids worth ₱2.1 billion and the upgrading of technological capabilities of the agency’s productive sectors worth ₱1.2 billion.


Senator Ping Lacson proposed to integrate the research and development programs of all government agencies under the DOST. He clarified that the budget will still be lodged under the respective agencies, with the DOST helping to determine priorities and steer the direction of the research and development programs.


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This article first appeared on CNN Philippines.

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