VERA FILES FACT CHECK: Story claiming alert level ‘raised’ on Mayon, Bulusan MISLEADING

As monitoring continues for a possible major eruption of Taal volcano, a website published a misleading report claiming the alert level status of Bulusan and Mayon volcanoes in southern Luzon were recently “raised” to Alert Level 1 and 2, respectively.

A day after Taal exploded on Jan. 12, site The Subic Bay Pillars News Online lifted, word for word, an article published by tabloid Abante TNT on Jan. 13 on the Mayon volcano in Legazpi, Albay.

Instead of carrying Abante TNT’s headline, which read, “Alert level 2 tinaas na sa (Alert level 2 raised at) Mayon Volcano,” The Subic Bay Pillars News Online wrote, in all-caps: “ALERT LEVEL 2 ITINAAS NAMAN SA BULKANG MAYON, HABANG NAKA-ALERT LEVEL 1 NAMAN ANG BULKANG BULUSAN SA LALAWIGAN NG SORSOGON (Alert Level 2 raised in Mayon Volcano, while Bulusan Volcano in Sorsogon province is on Alert Level 1).”

The blog post’s headline insinuates that the announcement on Mayon and Bulusan’s alert levels are new developments, evoking fear from netizens who read the story. Several Facebook users who commented on the post shared widely on the social media platform, called for prayers and divine mercy.

These are not recent developments.

Mayon has been on Alert Level 2 since March 2018. Bulusan, on the other hand, has been on Alert Level 1 for eight months now, since May 2019.

Alert level 2, according to PHIVOLCS, refers to a moderate level of volcanic unrest, which involves frequent volcanic earthquakes and steam and gas releases, as well as recurring steam and ash explosions.

Alert level 1, on the other hand, means low level of volcanic activity or a slight increase in volcanic earthquakes and steam and gas releases.

More, the photo used by The Subic Bay Pillars News Online in its post is not a recent image of Mount Mayon, as it was captured during the volcano’s eruption in December 2009 uploaded on the Flickr account of the International Rice Research Institute.

CNN Philippines on Jan. 20 reported that Phivolcs’s Volcano Monitoring and Eruption Prediction Division has actually been looking into recommending the downscaling

of the alert level on the two volcanoes.

Subic Bay Pillar’s post was published the same day Phivolcs posted a bulletin on Jan. 13 giving an update on Mayon volcano, where it said Alert Level 2 remains over the volcano.

Subic Bay Pillars’s post got around 250,000 interactions and could have reached almost a million social media users. FB page The SUBIC BAY Pillars News Online, and FB groups BELOVED NUEVA VIZCAYA !!! and The Children Of God generated the most traffic to the misleading report.

The blog has been publishing posts since November 2018.

(Editor's Note: VERA Files has partnered with Facebook to fight the spread of disinformation. Find out more about this partnership and our methodology.)


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About Vera Files

Founded in March 2008, VERA Files is published by veteran Filipino journalists taking a deeper look into current Philippine issues. Vera is Latin for “true.”

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