Steam-driven eruption observed in Taal Volcano

MANILA: Steam-driven or phreatic eruption was observed at the Taal Main Crater early Friday, the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs) said.

In an advisory shared shortly before 10 a.m., the Phivolcs said the eruption was recorded between 5:11 a.m. to 5:24 a.m. and has produced a 2,400-meter plume.

This was likely driven by the continued emission of hot volcanic gases at the Taal Main Crater, and could be succeeded by similar phreatic activity, the advisory added.

Taal Volcano’s sulfur dioxide (S02) emission averaged 9,677 tons on April 11. The S02 emission has been consistently high, averaging 10,248 tons per day since January 2024.

Phivolcs, meanwhile, said background levels of volcanic earthquake activity and ground deformation detected at the volcano indicate that unrest is unlikely to progress into magmatic eruption.

Taal Volcano is still on Alert Level 1, indicating an abnormal condition.

Sudden steam-driven or phreatic explosions, volcanic earthquakes, minor ashfall, and l
ethal accumulations or expulsions of volcanic gas can occur and threaten areas within Taal Volcano Island (TVI) – Taal’s permanent danger zone.

Degassing of high concentrations of volcanic SO2 continues to pose a threat of potential long-term health impacts to communities around Taal Caldera that are frequently exposed to volcanic gas.

As such, Phivolcs reiterated that entry into TVI, especially the vicinities of the Main Crater and the Daang Kastila fissure, must remain strictly prohibited.

Local government units are also advised to continuously monitor and assess the preparedness of their communities and undertake appropriate response measures to mitigate hazards that could be posed by long-term degassing and related phreatic activity.

Aviation authorities are likewise advised to tell pilots to avoid flying close to the volcano as airborne ash and ballistic fragments from explosions and wind-remobilized ash may pose hazards to aircraft.

The Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office (PDRR
MO) in Batangas, meanwhile, called for continued public vigilance.

‘There is no indication of eruption… the eruption this morning did not involve magma although there is still another possibility that it will happen again. With this development, everyone must be very vigilant,’ PDRRMO head Dr. Amor Calayan told the Philippine News Agency.

Calayan said her team immediately went to the Phivolcs Observatory in Talisay following the phreatic eruption.

The PDRRMO and local DRRMOs have been monitoring the situation 24/7 to ensure the safety of the public since, Calayan assured.

She said tourists are still welcome to explore the province amid the abnormal situation.

Source: Philippines News agency

Singaporean PM to visit PH, discuss potential energy tie-up

MANILA: Singapore Foreign Minister Vivian Balakrishnan will be on an official visit to the Philippines on April 15 to 17 to bolster relations and map out future engagements, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) announced Friday.

The DFA said the visit will build on the gains of the 6th Informal-Consultations on the Philippine-Singapore Action Plan (IC-PSAP) held February, where senior officials from the two parties talked about possible cooperation in the fields of energy, climate change, health and maritime domain.

During their bilateral meeting, Balakrishnan and Foreign Affairs Secretary Enrique Manalo will also ‘exchange views on regional and international developments,’ the DFA said.

‘The current visit is expected to build on the gains of the IC-PSAP and plan for future engagements as relations between the two countries continue to deepen,’ it said.

‘The Philippines and Singapore enjoy more than five decades of multi-faceted engagement in the areas of defense and security, trade and investment, and
cultural and people-to-people exchanges,’ it added.

During his trip to Singapore last year, President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. invited Singaporean businesses to consider the Philippines as their investment hub for renewable energy, noting that foreign investors can enjoy 100 percent equity in the exploration, development, and utilization of solar, wind, hydro, and ocean or tidal energy resources.

Balakrishnan’s upcoming Manila trip comes days ahead of the celebration of the 55th anniversary of Philippines-Singapore diplomatic relations in May.

Source: Philippines News agency

PRO-12 arrests 71 wanted persons, seizes P1.5-M shabu in SACLEO

KORONADAL: Seventy-one wanted persons with warrants of arrest issued by various local courts were arrested during the daylong Simultaneous Law Enforcement Operations (SACLEO) in the Soccsksargen Region on Thursday.

‘It was a resounding success,’ said Brig. Gen. Percival Augustus Placer, regional director for the Police Regional Office-Soccsksargen (PRO-12), in a statement Friday.

Of the 71, seven were listed as the most wanted at the regional level, eight at the provincial level, and 13 at the municipal level.

Also arrested were 43 persons for other crimes.

In the campaign against illegal drugs, 18 drug personalities were arrested during the SACLEO, which led to the recovery of PHP1,592,444 worth of shabu.

Placer said the amount included the PHP1.3 million worth of shabu seized from a 27-year-old female drug peddler in Barangay Dadiangas West, General Santos City.

On loose firearms, he noted the recovery of 53 assorted firearms in 52 operations in the provinces of South Cotabato, North Cotabato, Sultan
Kudarat, Sarangani, and the cities of Kidapawan, Tacurong, Koronadal, and General Santos

Source: Philippines News agency

Let LGUs, schools decide on extreme heat protocols – PAGASA

MANILA: The state weather bureau on Friday recommended that local government units and school officials have the final say in issuing extreme heat protocols.

“At the moment, our recommendation is that the recipients of heat-related information provided by PAGASA (e.g., the local government units, school heads, etc.) should have the final say on the decision-making process guided by the information that they received from the agency,” the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) said in a statement on Friday afternoon

Its statement comes after a lawmaker recently suggested that PAGASA could set rules on work and class cancellations due to extreme heat.

Many schools have been canceling onsite classes due to the heat index forecast from PAGASA.

Another lawmaker recently suggested that the government should adopt a “temporary work break” to safeguard the employees from the dangers of extreme temperatures.

The weather bureau said it appreciates the trust and confid
ence of the stakeholders.

PAGASA has been providing heat index, or what the temperature feels like to the human body when relative humidity is combined with the air temperature, monitored in the past five days as well as the forecast heat index for the next two days.

On April 12, PAGASA logged a 43 °C heat index in Dagupan City, Pangasinan; Roxas City, Capiz; and Iloilo City. Heat index forecast in Dagupan City could reach 46 °C on April 14.

PAGASA said that while it uses a 4-tier effect-based classification to note the combined effects of temperature and humidity on the human body, the bureau acknowledges the limitations of its existing extreme heat-related warnings.

It welcomes the suggestion to tailor such information in the decision-making process, such as an extreme heat protocol relevant to school activities, PAGASA added.

The weather bureau said efforts were already being made to improve the heat index monitoring and early warning system.

“The agency’s technical working group on heat index operat
ional issuance is exploring methods and resources to address challenges in the availability of data,” it said.

Source: Philippines News agency

PH Navy test-fires new non-line of sight missile system

MANILA: The Philippine Navy (PN) has validated the precision strike capability of the newly installed Israeli-made Spike NLOS (non-line of sight) missile system fitted aboard one of its fast attack interdiction craft (FAIC) platforms.

The NLOS missile system accurately hit the target at least 20 kilometers away during the firing held in Mariveles, Bataan on Wednesday, Navy spokesperson Commander John Percie Alcos said in a news release Friday.

“Said activity was part of the acceptance terms and training deliverables included in the FAIC Acquisition Project,” he said.

“Offering unparalleled accuracy and versatility, this new capability represents a leap forward in precision-guided munitions technology,” Alcos added.

Developed by Israeli firm Rafael Advanced Defense Systems, the Spike NLOS missile system is equipped with advanced electro-optical and infrared sensors and offers day and night operational capabilities, enhancing its effectiveness in various combat scenarios.

The advanced missile system boasts
an impressive range of up to 30 km (approximately 18.6 miles), enabling operators to engage targets with pinpoint accuracy from stand-off distances.

“The test-firing coincided with the nation’s commemoration of the Veterans Week and Day of Valor which added significance to the activity that demonstrated the PN’s resolve to better fulfill its mandate to uphold and protect our maritime nation’s sovereignty and interests and as a way to honor the valor and keep the legacy of Filipino war veterans,” Alcos said.

The Navy received the two FAICs, also known as the Acero-class gunboats, from Israel on Nov. 18, 2023.

The missile boats were delivered through the general cargo ship Kogra Royal and are now at the Commodore East Posadas Wharf in Cavite City for enhancement, maintenance, and training.

The platforms will be commissioned as PG-906 and PG-907 under the Acero-class patrol vessels of the Fleet’s Littoral Combat Force.

The delivery is part of the FAIC acquisition project of the Revised Armed Forces of the P
hilippines Modernization Program Horizon 2 contracted with Israel Shipyards, which includes nine platforms, and the transfer of technology to bolster the country’s shipbuilding capability.

Source: Philippines News agency

Bank lending up, domestic liquidity slows in Feb

MANILA: Bank lending of universal and commercial banks (U/KBs) grew at a faster pace in February this year while domestic liquidity growth slowed.

Data released by the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) released late Thursday showed that banks’ outstanding loans, excluding those placed in the central bank’s reverse repurchase facility, went up by 8.7 percent, up from the 7.8 percent increase in January this year.

Oustanding loans issued by U/KBs amounted to PHP11.6 trillion from PHP11.5 trillion in January and PHP10.6 trillion in February last year.

The central bank said outstanding loans to residents, net of RRPs, increased by 8.7 percent in February from 7.8 percent in the previous month, while outstanding loans to non-residents expanded by 6.5 percent after growing by 9.8 percent in January.

Loans for production activities went up by 6.8 percent from 5.9 percent in the previous month.

The BSP said the increase was mainly driven by the higher lending to key sector such as real estate activities (11.6 pe
rcent); electricity, gas, steam, and airconditioning supply (11.2 percent); wholesale and retail trade, and repair of motor vehicles and motorcycles (7.1 percent); transportation and storage (21.1 percent); and manufacturing (5.9 percent).

Consumer loans to residents also grew by 25.2 percent in February, the same rate as in January, on the sustained increase in credit card and motor vehicle loans.

Domestic liquidity (M3), meanwhile, grew by 5 percent to about PHP16.9 trillion in February 2024 from 6.0 percent in January.

Rizal Commercial Banking Corporation chief economist Michael Ricafort said the issuance of the five-year Retail Treasury Bond last month likely contributed to the slower M3 growth.

“The record PHP584.86 billion 5-year RTB issuance in February 2024 would have fundamentally siphoned off some of the excess peso liquidity from the financial system and slowed down the M3 growth for the month, but would eventually be offset by the large PHP700 billion RTB maturity from March 9-12, 2024 that co
uld be added to the peso liquidity and could lead to some pick up in M3 growth by March 2024,” he said.

He added that the slower M3 growth is still fundamentally consistent with the relatively tight monetary policy measures as local monetary authorities siphon off some of the excess liquidity in the financial system.

Domestic claims expanded by 9.5 percent from 9.9 percent in the previous month.

Claims on the private sector grew by 10.1 percent from 8.9 percent in January with the sustained expansion in bank lending to non-financial private corporations and households.

The BSP said net claims on the central government expanded by 12.1 percent from 15.8 percent due in part to the sustained borrowings of the National Government.

Net foreign assets (NFA) in peso terms rose by 3.6 percent from 4.4 percent in January.

The BSP’s NFA meanwhile grew by 5.9 percent while the NFA of banks contracted on account of lower interbank loans receivables.

The BSP said that looking ahead, it will ensure that liquidity an
d bank lending conditions remain consistent with its price and financial stability objectives.

Source: Philippines News agency