By Priam Nepomuceno

TO THE RESCUE. Troops of the Philippine Army’s 77th Infantry Battalion, together with personnel of the Philippine National Police, mount rescue operations in Baggao, Cagayan at the height of Typhoon Egay on Thursday (July 27, 2023). The Armed Forces of the Philippines has deployed land, naval and air units to conduct rescue and relief operations in areas battered by the typhoon. (Photo courtesy of Philippine Army)

MANILA – The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) has deployed troops for relief and rescue efforts in communities in Northern Luzon that were devastated by Typhoon Egay.

The Philippine Army (PA) announced that rescue units of its Isabela-based 5th Infantry Division (5ID) are conducting humanitarian assistance and disaster relief (HADR) missions in communities in Cagayan, Kalinga, Apayao, and Ilocos Sur that were severely affected by the typhoon.

In a statement Friday, Army spokesperson Col. Xerxes Trinidad said the 5ID’s 17th Infantry Battalion (IB) sent troops for rescue operations in Abulug, Cagayan where the super typhoon caused water levels to rise.

The 77th IB also distributed relief goods to affected families in Baggao, Cagayan.

The 98th IB, meanwhile, led the evacuation of flood-affected residents to their respective municipal evacuation centers in Kabugao, Apayao.

“Also, the 50th Infantry Battalion performed road-clearing operations and mobility rescue of families in Narvacan, Ilocos Sur,” Trinidad said, adding that 5ID units are carrying out HADR missions in cooperation with responders from local government units, Bureau of Fire Protection, Philippine National Police and Department of Social Welfare and Development.

Meanwhile, AFP chief and PA commander, Gen. Romeo Brawner Jr. hailed the 5ID for their “intensified HADR operations for the typhoon-affected communities.”

“During natural disasters, the PA maximizes its troops and utilizes modern equipment and facilities to support humanitarian assistance and disaster response efforts for the immediate need of our fellow kababayans,” Brawner said.

HADR missions in Baguio City, Ilocos Norte

As this developed, the Philippine Air Force (PAF), through the Tactical Operations Group 1 and 505th Search and Rescue Group, conducted HADR operations in Baguio City and Ilocos Norte on July 26.

“The search and rescue team, together with personnel from the BFP, worked together to clear obstructed roads in Barangay Loakan, Baguio City. Meanwhile, a separate response team in Ilocos Norte rescued and evacuated stranded residents of Barangay Barong, who were affected by the continuous rain and flooding in the area,” PAF spokesperson Col. Ma. Consuelo Castillo said late Thursday.

She said the PAF would continue to provide swift assistance to communities in need during calamities.

PH Fleet mobilizes rescue units

Meanwhile, the Philippine Fleet (PF) in Sangley Point, Cavite has mobilized its disaster response and rescue teams (DRRTs) for HADR missions.

“These DRRTs are Fleet personnel who have undergone comprehensive training in disaster response, and fully equipped to perform water search and rescue, provide medical assistance, and deliver essential supplies to those in distress,” PF spokesperson Lt. Giovanni Badidles said in a statement Thursday night.

He said the PF is also readying sea, air, and land assets to facilitate the HADR missions, especially in remote areas and for the necessary transport of affected individuals.

“These efforts manifest the command’s crucial role of mitigating the devastating impact of this disaster and providing a beacon of hope to help our fellow Filipinos recover from these ordeals,” Badidles said. (PNA)