Agricultural damage from Mt. Bulusan eruption at P20.2B 


DAMAGE to crops due mainly to ashfall from Mt. Bulusan’s eruption on Sunday was estimated at over P20 billion, according to the head of the national disaster response agency.   

Undersecretary Ricardo B. Jalad, executive director of the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council, said almost 3,700 hectares of farmland around the mountain volcano in Sorsogon were affected.    

“The Department of Agriculture monitored damage… in 3,698 hectares of crops with a monetary value of about P20.2 billion,” Mr. Jalad said in mixed English and Filipino based on a transcript of a Cabinet meeting with President Rodrigo R. Duterte on Monday night.   

No further details were discussed. Sorsogon’s major crops are rice, coconut, pili nuts, corn and bananas, based on data from the Agriculture department.  

Meanwhile, clearing operations are continuing in communities that were covered in ash after Mt. Bulusan erupted for 17 minutes on Sunday morning and spewed gray plumes.   

A total of 2,784 families or 13,920 individuals have been affected, Mr. Jalad said. Of these, 75 families composed of 278 individuals have been moved to the evacuation center in the town of Juban.   

The town’s disaster management head, Arvee Ledronio, said some of the evacuated residents might be allowed to return home by Tuesday.   

“It’s possible that some residents would be allowed to go back home today, June 7, as soon as the clearing operations are done,” he said in Filipino in an interview over state television network PTV-4.   

Alert level 1, which means a low level of volcanic unrest, was still up over Mt. Bulusan, according to the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs) bulletin on Tuesday.   

Mr. Jalad said all emergency response agencies, including security forces and local government teams, remain on full alert for a “worst-case scenario” of a violent eruption. — MSJ