MANILA – Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) Secretary Benjamin "Benhur" Abalos Jr. paid his last respects to the five rescuers who died during the onslaught of Super Typhoon Karding as he visited their wake at the Bulacan Capitol Gym in the City of Malolos on Friday night.
Abalos lauded the heroic deeds of the fallen rescuers of the Bulacan Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office (PDRRMO) who all died trying to save lives.
"The DILG is one with the Bulacan LGU (local government unit), headed by Bulacan Governor Daniel Fernando, and the entire nation in honoring them through a special tribute and recognizing what they have done: putting first and ensuring the safety of their kababayan (townmates) who were in dire need of help," he said in a statement.
Abalos earlier expressed his condolences and hailed the late rescuers Narciso Calayag, Jerson Resurreccion, Marvy Bartolome, George Agustin, and Troy Justin Agustin whom he called "brave heroes" for "rendering an unequivocal testament of genuine public service even at the expense of their own lives."
The five, while on their way to a rescue mission, went missing at the height of "Karding" on September 25.
Local authorities said they died after a flash flood swept them while in San Miguel town. Their bodies were discovered at about 4 a.m. the following day.
Meanwhile, the Manticao DRRMO in Misamis Oriental honored the five rescuers on Friday night.
The DRRMO members said a prayer and turned on the alarm of an ambulance for one minute.
Divina Suson, chief of Manticao DRRMO, said other than showing sympathy, they want to impart to LGUs the importance of rescuers who should be given ample protection and benefits.
She lamented that some LGUs have yet to improve their DRRMO and the rescuer's welfare despite the passage of Republic Act 10121, or the Philippine Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Act of 2010.
"In some local governments, there are rescuers who have been through trainings but get replaced because of the change of LCEs (local chief executives)," Suson said in an interview on Saturday.
Suson assured the Manticao local government gives priority to DRRM response.
"We are one of the few in the province to provide accident insurance for our rescuers, ambulance and rescue vehicles," she said.
Suson also said that all rescuers in the local government have benefits, regardless if they are regular or job order employees.
In a previous statement, Mayor Stephen Tan said that as a fourth-class municipality, Manticao may not be able to adequately respond to calamities that is why they provide training and capacity-building interventions for DRRMO staff and rescuers.
"We will expand our networks, especially with organizations that can give interventions on disaster response and management," Tan said. (PNA)