(Photo courtesy of San Miguel, Bulacan MDRRMO)

MANILA – The Philippine Army (PA) and Philippine Air Force (PAF) are now preparing all available personnel and assets for possible humanitarian assistance and disaster relief (HADR) missions in the aftermath of Super Typhoon Karding.

PA spokesperson Col. Xerxes Trinidad, in a statement Sunday night, said the Army has marshaled around 200 personnel who are ready to risk limbs and life to save lives.

"The standby force and transportation assets will be deployed to conduct HADR efforts in Metro Manila and nearby areas, in case the need arises. Central Luzon is expected to bear the brunt of Super Typhoon Karding, the strongest tropical cyclone to directly affect the country this year," he added.

Meanwhile, Army Operations Center (AOC) officers and personnel are continuously monitoring the situation in calamity areas for possible deployment of HADR teams.

"PA troops and reservists remain on high alert. Rest assured, your Philippine Army will work hand-in-hand with other government and private sector responders to help our countrymen who live in communities along the path of this super typhoon," PA chief Lt. Gen. Romeo S. Brawner Jr. said.

Meanwhile, the PAF has placed all of its disaster response task unit (DRTU) personnel, equipment, and air assets in Luzon on alert status for possible HADR missions,

"Moreover, the teams are equipped with hard hats, life vests, chain saw, axe, crowbar, hammers, rubber boats, utility ropes, flashlights, radios, stretchers, ladders, shovels, generators, lifesavers, medical equipment, and are capable of search, relief, rescue, recovery, and medical aid," PAF spokesperson Col. Ma. Consuelo Castillo said.

In addition, PAF reservists in the different air reserve centers in Luzon were also placed on standby alert for possible augmentation in the conduct of HADR.

"The heavy engineering equipment and operators of the 355th Aviation Engineer Wing were also placed on standby alert," she added.

Castillo also said the C-208 Grand Caravan and the Hermes 900 UAV aircraft are alerted to fly for rapid damage assessment and needs analysis.

"Airlift and search-and-rescue assets to include the S-Huey, Huey II, Bell 205, S-70i Black Hawk, UH-1H, Bell 412, and C-295 aircraft are also on standby alert for HADR operations like SAR (search-and-rescue), relief operations, and other related missions," she added.

Cops, firefighters to aid relief ops

Meanwhile, Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) Secretary Benjamin ‘Benhur’ Abalos Jr. said a total of 8,642 police officers of the Philippine National Police (PNP) and 11,619 firefighters and personnel of the Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP are currently deployed in affected areas, vital installations and evacuation centers in typhoon-affected regions

In a statement, Abalos said the 3,030 police officers are in evacuation centers and areas vacated by affected residents while 5,612 police officers are in vital installations such as public markets, gas stations, terminals, warehouses, relief operation centers and other public convergence areas.

He said 1,270 police personnel are deployed in the National Capital Region (NCR); 904 in Ilocos Region; 987 in Cagayan Valley; 1.551 in Central Luzon; 1,546 in Calabarzon; 1,727 in Mimaropa; 486 in Bicol; and 171 in the Cordillera Administrative Region (CAR).

For the BFP, Abalos said that 1,591 firefighters and personnel are helping in Ilocos Region; 1,170 in Cagayan Valley 2; 1,840 in Central Luzon; 1,223 in Calabarzon; 241 in Mimaropa; 1,361 in Bicol; 1,829 in Western Visayas; 1,650 in NCR; and 704 in CAR.

He added that 1,596 firetrucks, 103 ambulances, 22 rescue trucks, and seven rescue boats are also on standby.

Meanwhile, Abalos said local government units (LGUs) in Ilocos Region, Cagayan Valley, Central Luzon, Calabarzon, Mimaropa, Bicol Region, Western Visayas, CAR and NCR stepped up and proactively responded in anticipation of “Karding”.

Reports from the ground stated that the LGUs were able to convene their respective Local Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Councils (DRRMCs) and conduct Pre-Disaster Risk Assessment (PDRA) meetings; activated Barangay DRRMCs for close coordination, prepositioning of necessary supplies and preparation of evacuation centers; and conducted preemptive evacuations starting on Sept. 24.

The LGUs likewise spearheaded in informing village chiefs of weather advisories and other relevant information; advising residents in high-risk areas to take precautionary measures, and immediately evacuate to designated safe sites, when advised by local authorities; pruning of trees, clearing of waterways, street drainage and other preparedness measures were conducted, among others.

“We appreciate LGUs along the path of Super Typhoon Karding for beefing up their preparations and carrying out all necessary preemptive measures needed,” he added.

Abalos likewise reminded all concerned local chief executives (LCEs) to stand their ground and be physically present, especially in affected areas and communities most susceptible to disasters, before, during, and after the weather disturbance.

“It’s crucial that leaders are looking after their constituents in circumstances such as super typhoons. LCEs dapat ang nangunguna sa paghahanda sa anumang sakuna at pagtugon sa pangangailangan ng kanilang nasasakupan (LCEs must take the lead in the preparations for any calamities and in relief efforts to attend to the needs of their constituents),”Abalos said.

Abalos said LCEs who have a valid reason for not being in their respective station should designate an officer-in-charge who will take charge of operations during calamities. (PNA)