KEY POINTS

  • The ailing Duterte talked about Taal Volcano's eruption and his state of health in a chat with reporters
  • He said he'd pee on the "goddamned" Taal Volcano
  • He plans to fly over the volcano in a helicopter on Tuesday

Philippine president Rodrigo Duterte, assailed by the world for human rights abuses, launched into a rant Monday, boasting he'll eat poisonous volcanic ash spewed by the Taal Volcano that erupted Sunday.

The man accused by international human rights groups of launching an anti-drug campaign that's seen the killing of more than 20,000 suspects at the hands of Philippine police also said he'd pee on the "goddamned" volcano, probably to make it stop erupting.

Duterte said he'd fly over Batangas province (site of Taal Volcano) in a helicopter Tuesday because he can't risk personally visiting any area affected by the volcanic eruption. He said his doctor told him not to visit these calamity areas on foot. These places are now covered in a thick layer of volcanic ash, which are infused with bits of glass that can pose serious health hazards when inhaled for some time.

"I've been warned by my doctor to be careful because this device cannot control the ashes. After many years of smoking, my lungs are affected,” said Duterte pointing to an inhaler around his neck, noted Rappler.

Duterte took the moment during his talk with reporters to make light of the dire situation with a stunning and puerile boast.

“I'm going to eat that ashfall. I'm even going to pee on Taal, that goddamned volcano," Duterte said in Filipino.

The Philippines' president then boasted his government anticipated the humanitarian crisis that followed the eruption of Taal. He also promised to give residents affected by the eruption financial assistance, but didn't specify how much.

“We have anticipated it and pati ‘yung mga Marines ko, ‘yung mga sundalo ko nandoon (my Marines and my soldiers are there.) And the resources, I said, are there. And the forward supplies, they were carried over there 24 hours since it first exploded,” he said.

A volcano near the Philippine capital spews a massive cloud of ash into the sky on Sunday. Taal, one of the country's most active volcanoes located 65 kilometres (40 miles) south of Manila, last erupted in 1977. A volcano near the Philippine capital spews a massive cloud of ash into the sky on Sunday. Taal, one of the country's most active volcanoes located 65 kilometres (40 miles) south of Manila, last erupted in 1977. Photo: AFPTV / Joshua MELVIN

The Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs) said that while it's been closely monitoring Taal since March 2019, the unexpected and massive phreatic eruption on Sunday afternoon that hurled steam and ash 15 kilometers into the sky caught them by surprise. Mariton Bornas, chief of volcano monitoring at PHIVOLCs, also said they were surprised by the rapid speed of the eruption on Sunday.

Evacuations of persons within a 14 km radius from Taal is underway. Phivolcs on Sunday evening raised Taal's eruption threat to a Level 4 on a scale of 5. Level 4 means a “hazardous explosive eruption is possible within hours to days.”

Phivolcs urges the immediate evacuation of Taal Volcano Island due to high risk of pyroclastic density currents, or a fast-moving current of hot gas and volcanic matter. There's also the danger from a deadly "volcanic tsunami" within a 14 km radius from the main crater or caldera.

Some 20,000 Filipinos are now in evacuation centers in the adjoining provinces of Cavite and Batangas due to Taal’s eruption, according to the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council.

The ailing Duterte is under treatment for a variety of diseases he attributes to old age and smoking. Back in November, he admitted to be suffering from Buerger’s disease, migraine and back pains caused by falling off a motorcycle in October.

A rare disease of the arteries and veins in the arms and legs, Buerger's disease causes blood vessels to become inflamed, swell and can become blocked with blood clots. It eventually damages or destroys skin tissues and might lead to infection and gangrene. Almost everyone diagnosed with Buerger's disease smokes cigarettes or uses other forms of tobacco.