Sep 232014
 

http://wikileaks.org/cable/2010/01/10MANILA10.html#
Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
10MANILA10
2010-01-05 08:18
2011-08-30 01:44
UNCLASSIFIED//FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY
Embassy Manila

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DE RUEHML #0010/01 0050818
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
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FM AMEMBASSY MANILA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 6150
RUEHZS/ASSOCIATION OF SOUTHEAST ASIAN NATIONS IMMEDIATE
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHDC IMMEDIATE
RHOVQHS/COMSEVENTHFLT IMMEDIATE
INFO RHHMUNA/USPACOM HONOLULU HI IMMEDIATE
RUEHGV/USMISSION GENEVA IMMEDIATE 2339
RUCNDT/USMISSION USUN NEW YORK IMMEDIATE 0365
RUEHBS/USEU BRUSSELS IMMEDIATE
RUEHRO/USMISSION UN ROME IMMEDIATE
RUEKJCS/JOINT STAFF WASHINGTON DC IMMEDIATE
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC IMMEDIATE
UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 MANILA 000010

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

BANGKOK FOR USAID /OFDA REGIONAL ADVISOR A. DWYER
USAID FOR DCHA/OFDA R. THAYER
USAID W/ FOR ANE/AA AND DCHA/FPP
GENEVA FOR N. KYLOH
USUN FOR OFDA REP
BRUSSELS FOR P. BROWN
ROME FOR USAID/OHA H. SPANOS
SECDEF FOR SOLIC
JOINT STAFF WASHDC FOR J3/J4/J5
PACOM FOR J3/J4/J5
NSC FOR P. MARCHAM

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: EAID SOCI PREL KPAO SENV EAGR CASC RP
SUBJECT: PHILIPPINES VOLCANO THREAT EASES; SUCCESSFUL ‘ZERO CASUALTY’ EVACUATION WRAPS UP

REFTELS: A) 09 Manila 2583 B) 09 Manila 2597 C) 09 Manila 2610 D)
09 Manila 2636 E) 09 Manila 2638

¶1. (SBU) Summary. Philippine volcanologists downgraded the threat
level of southern Luzon’s Mount Mayon to Alert Level 3 on January 2,
allowing nearly all 48,000 evacuees to return to their homes on the
volcano’s slopes. Albay provincial officials attribute their
successful management of the crisis and the lack of fatalities to
well-practiced evacuation protocols, as well as assistance from the
United States and others. End Summary.

——————————————
Declining Activity Merits Threat Downgrade
——————————————

¶2. (SBU) Expecting a trend of declining volcanic activity that began
on December 28 to persist, Philippine Institute of Volcanology and
Seismology (PHIVOLCS) scientists lowered the threat level of Mount
Mayon from Alert Level 4 to 3 on January 2. The number of volcanic
earthquakes has decreased from a December 21 high of almost 2,000
per day to three on January 4, and the daily volume of sulfur
dioxide emissions has stabilized at 2,000 tons, from a peak of over
8,000 tons, according to PHIVOLCS bulletins. In a January 4 radio
interview, PHIVOLCS Director Renato Solidum said that barring an
upturn in reactivity, he expected to maintain Alert Level 3, which
signifies ‘relatively high unrest,’ for another week or more.

——————————————-
Ninety Five Percent of Evacuees Return Home
——————————————-

¶3. (SBU) More than 95 percent of the almost 48,000 people whom
authorities evacuated since December 14 had returned to their homes
by January 4, according to the Albay Province Public Safety and
Emergency Management Office. Approximately 500 families whose homes
lie in the permanent danger zone within four miles of the summit
will remain in vacuation centers until PHIVOLCS authorities
dowgrade the threat to Alert Level 2. According to mdia reports,
provincial authorities are distributing a two-month supply of rice
to decamping families, as well as providing a payment of 1,400
Philippine pesos (USD 30), for which families are obligated to
repair and clean up evacuation centers.

—————————-
Evacuation Practice Pays Off
—————————-

¶4. (SBU) Albay provincial authorities identify preemptive evacuation
as the key response mechanism in their effort to achieve zero
disaster casualties. Provincial disaster officials told us that
conducting seven mass typhoon- and volcano-related evacuations in
recent years fine-tuned evacuation protocols. Chief Provincial
Health Officer Doctor Chito Mendoza noted that not only could none
of the four fatalities that occurred in the evacuation centers be
attributed to the conditions there, but that this number represented
a 71 percent decrease in the expected number of fatalities for a
population of 48,000 in Albay province. This statistic indicates
that evacuees receivedhigher quality food and health care in the
evacuation centers than they did while living independently,
according to Dr. Mendoza.

————————————-
U.S. Disaster Relief Past and Present
————————————-

¶5. (SBU) Based on continued high levels of volcanic activity at the
end of last month, the Ambassador exercised her disaster relief
authority on December 29 (ref E) and requested USD 100,000 from the
U.S. Agency for International Development Office of U.S. Foreign

MANILA 00000010 002 OF 002

Disaster Assistance (USAID/OFDA), of which USD 50,000 was released
to the Philippine National Red Cross (PNRC) on January 1. The PNRC
originally planned to use these funds to procure and distribute
non-food items such as face masks to filter out volcanic ash,
tarpaulins for emergency shelters, as well as mosquito nets and
hygiene kits. As a result of the reduced alert level and the
resulting decampment of most evacuees, however, USAID/OFDA will
reevaluate the use of those funds. In light of the historical
unpredictability of Mayon’s hazardous eruptions, USAID will continue
to assess the potential use of the unobligated USD 50,000.

¶6. (SBU) Albay Governor Jose Sarte ‘Joey’ Salceda and other
provincial officials have publicly and privately thanked the United
States and other international donors for past and present disaster
relief assistance. USAID has funded over five million dollars of
disaster relief and preparedness projects in Albay province since
2006 (Refs A and C), and a broad range of international and
non-governmental organizations provided food and technical
assistance to the Mayon volcano refugees during the recent crisis
(Ref D).

¶7. (SBU) A high regional population density and the draw of rich
volcanic soil have led many Filipinos to make their homes on the
volcano’s slopes. Authorities estimate that almost 130,000
residents live within range of a catastrophic explosion. To
mitigate the need for recurring evacuations, provincial officials
have begun a program to permanently relocate those living within
four miles of the summit. To date they have provided developed lots
outside the danger zone to over 10,000 households that currently
reside in these high risk areas.

Kenney

   

 

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