Sunday, December 7, 2014

AFP deploys disaster operation units in Bicol
By Rhaydz B. Barcia

LEGAZPI CITY, Dec. 7 (PNA) -- The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) has deployed soldiers specializing on disaster response measures in Biol to ensure the safety of the Bicolanos.

Army Major Gen. Yerson E. Depayso said the Philippine Army in Bicol has committed all its capabilities and assets for emergencies that would be caused by Typhoon "Ruby" to ensure the safety of the Bicolanos with their target of zero casualty.

“Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Response (HADR) is a major effort of the 9ID since this region is frequented by typhoons,” he said.

Depayso said the military is continuing to train its personnel on disaster preparedness, rescue operations, and water and search specialized training to immediately respond in times of disaster.

Army Col. Raul Farnacio, commanding officer of the Army’s 901st Infantry Brigade, said 23 military trucks and three police trucks with 18 disaster response operation units have been mobilized in Albay.

While in Catanduanes, six military trucks were deployed for evacuation of the people threatened by storm surge and landslide.

The AFP in Bicol activated the Task Force Sagip Ruby as Ruby was to enter the Philippine Area of Responsibility (PAR).

Brig.Gen. Felix J Castro Jr., commander of Task Group Sagip Ruby, said all Army units in Bicol under the 9ID were already on the ground to lend a hand to the Bicolanos.

He said a battalion-size rescuers and responders were organized by the 9ID and were deployed across the region before Ruby entered the Philippine Area of Responsibility.

Three rubber boats and water rescue equipment were deployed in flood-prone-areas like Legazpi City, Albay; Camarines Sur and Camarines Norte.

“The three infantry brigades and battalions have prepositioned their personnel with military vehicles and were dispatched for preemptive evacuation at flood-prone, landslide-prone, and mudflow areas.

Army reservists of the 5th Regional Community Defense Group, ARESCOM were also alerted for possible deployment,” Castro said.

At least two million Bicolanos evacuated by disaster responders at the Bicol region were facing complex disaster.

Bernardo “Raffy” Alejandro, Office of Civil Defense regional director, said 500 families or an equivalent of two million people across the region have been evacuated to safety.

The biggest number of evacuees came from Albay and Sorsogon provinces as the complex disaster might occur following the threat of landslides, flashfloods, lahar flows and storm surges.

Ed Laguerta, Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology resident volcanologist, warned disaster officials and responders to prepare for a worst-case scenario as complex disaster in Bicol is possible as the restive Mayon might explode while old volcanic materials are expected to go down in low-lying areas in the provinces of Albay and Sorsogon.

“Typhoon Ruby may trigger sudden Mayon explosion, possible upper-level collapse and simultaneous remobilization of lahar from the slopes of the country’s two most active volcanoes, Bulusan in Sorsogon and Mayon in Albay,” Laguerta said.

“Intense rainfall may trigger upper-level collapse of the volcano that could lead to explosion. So we need to be ready and prepare for the worst-case scenario as mudflow may tumble down due to heavy rainfall,” he said.

In Albay province, even before Ruby’s landfall, raging big waves pummelled in the coastal areas of Legazpi City, destroying numerous light material-made houses in the villages of Pigcale, Sabang, San Roque, Bigaa and Rawis on Thursday evening.

Albay Governor Joey Salceda said the province is bracing for flashfloods, mudflows, storm surges and massive landslides.

“We’re ready for worst and complex scenario. We’re declaring Albay under state of calamity for the local government units to use their calamity fund,” Salceda said.

The provincial government of Albay allocated at least Php15 million for disaster response operations and sought assistance from Department of Social Welfare Department for additional support.

The DSWD allocated 6,000 bags of rice for Albay to support the needs of almost 600,000 Albayanos evacuated to safer grounds.

“Local government units must complete evacuation before darkness. Families not evacuated should complete their family preparedness plan, no extra movement – stay home or stay in evacuation centers. No crossing of rivers, no sail to sea, fix your homes and secure your pets and other domestic animals. Our goal is always zero casualty. Remember our policy is no rescue during the height of typhoon so as not to put the lives of the rescuers into danger,” the Albay governor reiterated. (PNA) FFC/FGS/RBB/CBD