By Priam Nepomuceno

(Photo courtesy of Major Erwen Diploma, Philippine Contingent ground commander)

MANILA – The Philippine contingent deployed to earthquake-hit Türkiye formally started its relief mission on Friday.

“The Philippine Inter-Agency Contingent to Turkiye successfully arrived at Istanbul yesterday (Thursday) at 11:59 a.m.PST and shall commence their mission today, 10 February 2023,” Office of Civil Defense (OCD) spokesperson, Assistant Secretary Bernardo Rafaelito Alejandro IV, said in a statement.

The contingent is composed of 82 members — 12 from the 505th Search and Rescue Group of the Philippine Air Force; 21 from the 525th Engineering Combat Battalion of the Philippine Army; nine from the Metro Manila Development Authority; eight from Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority; 30 from the Department of Health; and two from the OCD.

Three members of the contingent were unable to join the mission due to lack of required travel documents.

The OCD said this does not in any way affect the overall integrity and capability of the force.

“The Philippine Contingent remains dedicated, and ready for their mission to help the People of Turkiye and all the victims of this tragic earthquake, despite of all the challenges they met since they left the Philippines and the harsh and extreme weather they will experience in Turkiye,” OCD administrator Undersecretary Ariel Nepomuceno said.

The 82-member team of the Philippines, who departed Adana Airport at around 3:35 a.m. Friday is expected to begin their mission once settled upon arrival in Adiyaman.

The Philippines was also able to deploy a response team within the international standard of deploying a response team within 48 hours.

“Our team in Turkiye is well coordinated with the Turkish Government and with our embassy officials. This strong coordination facilitated the smooth arrival and operations in the designated area in Turkiye thereby ensuring adherence to international standards,” Nepomuceno added. (PNA)