President Rodrigo Duterte on Thursday joked about putting a lid on the Taal Volcano, which is under a state of unrest and has forced the evacuations of thousands, after he was asked about how the government was preparing to address the situation.

The Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology placed Taal under Alert Level 3 after a short-lived dark phreatomagmatic plume on Thursday.

Alert Level 3 means there is magmatic intrusion at the main crater that could possibly drive subsequent eruptions.

“Dumaan man kami kanina. Kaunti man lang…Siguro lagyan ko lang ng cap iyong butas ng Taal na ‘yan,” Duterte quipped.

Asked if he would call for a command conference on the Taal situation, Duterte said, “Not necessarily.”

“We will raise the alert on the level that it should. Now it’s just rumbling and it’s spewing…I don’t know if it’s really the ashes. Apektado daw tayo but it’s not really a grave concern for us at this time. Maybe it will degenerate into something bad. By that time, you will know,” he added.

Malacañang on Friday assured the public that it was “closely monitoring the situation in Taal.”

In a statement, Palace spokesman Harry Roque said that the Department of Social Welfare and Development had readied P1.4-million worth of food packs and P11-million worth of non-food items for affected residents.

“We ask residents in the areas surrounding the volcano lake to remain vigilant, take precautionary measures, cooperate with their local authorities should the need for evacuation arise,” Roque said. John Ezekiel J. Hirro