By Priam Nepomuceno

HELPING HAND. Philippine Army rescuers and government responders recover a cadaver at ground zero of the landslide in Barangay Masara, Maco, Davao de Oro on Feb. 12, 2024. The AFP said it has deployed all of its available search-and-rescue personnel and assets to help with ongoing humanitarian assistance and disaster response operations in Davao and Caraga. (Photo courtesy of the Philippine Army)

MANILA – The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) announced that it has deployed all of its available search-and-rescue personnel and assets to aid ongoing humanitarian assistance and disaster response (HADR) operations in flood and landslide-hit areas in the regions of Davao and Caraga.

In a statement Wednesday night, AFP public affairs office chief Col. Xerxes Trinidad said the Philippine Air Force – particularly the 505th Search and Rescue Group, 205th Tactical Helicopter Wing, and the 220th Airlift Wing – used six helicopters, one C-130, and one C-295 aircraft and have transported 88,444 pounds of relief goods, equipment, and personnel as of Feb. 13.

Meanwhile, the Philippine Navy also deployed BRP Davao Del Sur (LD-602) and the Marine Battalion Landing Team 9 to facilitate the delivery of 40,000 family food packs provided by the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD).

The ship departed the Manila South Harbor on Feb. 13.

On Feb. 4, the BRP Tagbanua (LC-296) arrived in Davao Oriental with more than 19,000 DSWD family food packs.

Three disaster response teams of the Naval Forces Eastern Mindanao were also deployed on Feb. 2.

Meanwhile, Philippine Army units under the 10th Infantry Division, including its emergency response company; the 701st, 402nd, and 1001st Infantry Brigades; the 66th, 67th, 25th, and 60th Infantry Battalions; and the 534th and 525th Engineer Construction Battalions assisted on the ground in the search, rescue, and retrieval operations and in ensuring the safety of the affected communities.

On Feb. 5, soldiers from the 25th Infantry Battalion, delivered on foot, 71 sacks containing 355 food packs to Sitio Cagan, Barangay Andap in New Bataan town in Davao de Oro.

The walk to Sitio Cagan took six hours after it was isolated by landslides in the area.

A total of 29 search, rescue, and retrieval teams and 31 land mobility assets were deployed, with 62 more on standby in the Eastern Mindanao Command joint area of operations.

Meanwhile, AFP chief Gen. Romeo Brawner Jr. said the military is committed to assisting HADR efforts to support the affected population in the calamity-hit regions.

“It is without doubt that our troops are ready to go beyond the call of duty to deliver aid wherever and whenever it is needed. I am proud of every soldier, airman, sailor, and marine for their commitment and sacrifice in these trying times,” Brawner added. (PNA)