Bicol troops gear up for floods, other emergencies


LEGAZPI CITY: Following the design of a rubber boat, the Army’s 901st Infantry Brigade led by Col. Raul Farnacio cobbled a drum boat as substitute and back-up disaster gear that is cheaper and more durable than rubber raft.

Farnacio’s men turned out at least seven drum boats as additional emergency tools to be plied out in flooded areas in Albay province and other Bicol areas.

The drum boat fitted with motorized engine, wooden and steel crate was paraded at the headquarters of the Tactical Operations Group 5 (TOG5)-Philippine Air Force (PAF) in this city along with newest disaster gears such as airplanes from PAF and Philippine Navy, rubber boats, military trucks, ambulances and other equipment for disaster response.

Such display of disaster tools and readiness of responders was done by the Office of Civil Defense (OCD) in Bicol led by director Bernardo Rafaelito “Raffy” Alejandro in a bid to gauge competence to tackle emergencies.

A composite team of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (Philippine Navy, Tactical Operations Group 5-Philippine Air Force, Philippine Army), Bureau of Fire Protection, Philippine National Police, Albay Health Emergency Management, and Philippine Coast Guard showed their wares and disaster response skills.

Alejandro said the mustering of disaster response units (DRUs) of responders is in line with Bicol RDRRMC’s/OCD’s pro-active and preparedness measures.

“This activity was done with all DRUs able to respond within the required time frame . . . we are able to gather within an hour 100 personnel and equipment at TOG5, units from the Philippine Army [901], Philippine Air Force [TOG5], Philippine Navy [Navforsol], the Police Regional Office 5, Bureau of Fire Protection, and the Bicol Regional Training and Teaching Hospital,” Alejandro said.

However the Philippine Coast Guard in Bicol wasn’t able to send its team as the board of inquiry over the ill-fated MV Mount Carmel begun on Wednesday. The MV Mount Carmel sunk in Aroroy Masbate a week ago killing two passengers while seven others remain missing.

“The activity is one of the proactive actions of the RDRRMC to evaluate how fast every agency could react to impending disasters. Similarly, it’s also part of the preparations for upcoming rainy season, to ensure that all response agencies are in their 100 percent operational readiness,” the OCD chief said.

Lt. Col. Joannis Leonardi Di-maano, commanding officer of the Tactical Operations Group 5-Philippine Air Force in Bicol also showcased their two UH-1H helicopters along with the pilots and crew ready to respond in time of emergencies.

Rhaydz B. Barcia


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