MANILA – The Office of Civil Defense (OCD) has announced that the 82-member Philippine Inter-Agency Humanitarian Contingent (PIAHC) was awarded a humanitarian medal by the Turkish government in recognition of its assistance following a magnitude 7.8 earthquake that battered the country on Feb. 6.
"Major Sayin Erwen Diploma of the Philippine Air Force (PAF) and team leader of the 82-man PIAHC received a “humanitarian medal" from Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, on behalf of the Philippine Government, in recognition of the country’s support to the response operations in earthquake ravaged-Turkey at the Presidential Complex in Ankara on April 25, 2023," OCD spokesperson Assistant Secretary Bernardo Rafaelito Alejandro IV said in a news release sent Saturday night.
The inter-agency contingent, which was organized by the OCD, was composed of 12 personnel from the 505th Search and Rescue Group of the Air Force, 21 from the 525th Engineering Combat Battalion of the Army, nine from the Metro Manila Development Authority, eight from Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority, 30 from the Department of Health, and two from OCD.
“The humanitarian medal from President Erdogan of Türkiye means a lot to the members of the Philippine contingent which include the OCD. We thank President Erdogan for this kind gesture. Also, we once again commend and congratulate the team for the humanitarian services extended to the victims of the earthquake in Türkiye,” OCD administrator Undersecretary Ariel Nepomuceno said.
Meanwhile, a certificate of appreciation signed by Turkish Foreign Affairs Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu was also given by President Erdogan to the Philippine Embassy, represented by Chargé d'affaires, ad interim Juan Dayang Jr.
“I would like to express my heartfelt gratitude for the support and solidarity shown by your People and Government upon the devastating earthquakes that occurred on 06 February 2023 with Kahramanmaraş as its epicenter, which directly affected 11 cities and claimed the lives of tens of thousands of people. The solidarity shown to us in these difficult times has become an important source of consolation for the Turkish People and will never be forgotten. This certificate of appreciation is a token of gratitude felt by the Turkish People,” wrote Minister Çavuşoğlu in the certificate.
The PIAHC served 1,022 patients and assisted in search and rescue operations in the collapsed buildings, assessing a total of 36 buildings from February 10 to 15. It also provided 11,205 blankets, 5,000 bonnets, and 420 pairs of gloves to the victims.
The PIAHC’s base of operations was managed with the Department of Health and with assistance from the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the Turkish military.
The PIAHC team was also conferred “Bakas Parangal” award by the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council on March 6. (PNA)