As Taal simmers, Batangas town residents protest lockdown

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MANILA—Angry residents trooped to Cuenca Municipal Hall in Batangas province Thursday to protest the ongoing lockdown amid the continued unrest of Taal Volcano.

Local villagers asked authorities to allow window hours so that residents can secure their properties and feed their livestock.

"Bigyan kami ng window hour para pumasok. [Madiligan] mga halamat at [mapakain] ang mga hayop. How long will that take us?" a resident said.

(Give us a window hour to go inside so we could water our plants and feed the animals.)

The police, led by quadrant supervisor Maj. Ronald Cayago, reminded the residents they were not allowed to return to their homes.

"We are implementing the 14-kilometer danger zone… Huwag na tayong magmatigasan kasi hindi natin masasabi kung ano ang sitwasyon sa susunod na araw," he said.

(We are implementing the 14-kilometer danger zone… Dont' be troublesome because we don't know what will happen in the next few days.)

Cayago added: "Hayaan niyo na ang kapulisan, iri-risk namin ang buhay namin, para bantayan properties ninyo."

(Let the police secure your properties even at the risk of our lives.)

Cuenca is among 14 towns in Batangas province earlier identified by state seismologists as susceptible to ballistic projectiles, base surges and volcanic tsunami in case of a major eruption.

Taal Volcano is still under alert level 4, the second-highest danger level, which means a "hazardous explosive eruption is possible within hours to days."

In the past 24 hours, the volcano's main crater emitted plumes of steam as far as 500 meters in the air and sulfur dioxide measured at 141 tons.

Data from the Philippine Seismic Network (PSN) showed that some 731 volcanic earthquakes were plotted in the Taal region since Jan. 12. Among these, some 176 were felt, ranging from between Magnitude 1.2 and 4.1 and experienced at between Intensity 1 and 4.

Meanwhile, the Taal Volcano Network, which can record small earthquakes undetectable by the PSN, recorded 467 volcanic earthquakes in the past 24 hours.

The National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) said Thursday that some 39,811 families or 147,873 people were still living in 500 emergency shelters.—With a report from Dennis Datu, ABS-CBN News

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