‘AGATON’ DISPLACES THOUSANDS: Uniformed personnel at forefront of disaster response

Members of the 2nd Iloilo Provincial Mobile Force Company led by Lieutenant Colonel Elmer Magbanua rescue residents of Barangay Pinantan Elizalde, Ajuy, Iloilo as Tropical Depression “Agaton” continues to pummel Visayas on Tuesday. (Photo from the 2nd Iloilo Provincial Mobile Force Company)

By Jennifer P. Rendon and Sean Rafio

Personnel in the uniformed service were all over the areas that suffered the brunt of tropical depression “Agaton.”

In Western Visayas, members of the Philippine National Police (PNP), Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP), and the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) left their usual office duties in the meantime to take the lead in evacuation and search and rescue operations.

Early afternoon of Tuesday, the Office of Civil Defense 6 (OCD-6) reported that “Agaton” affected 110 barangays in Western Visayas.

“Agaton” has also affected 9,251 families, with 2,239 families currently staying in evacuation centers.

But Ma. Aletha Nogra, chief of OCD-6’s Disaster Risk Reduction and Management, said local DRRMOs have yet to submit their reports on the number of damaged houses and to agriculture and infrastructure.

The Police Regional Office (PRO)-6 said it deployed 302 personnel for search and rescue operations.

Capiz Police Provincial Office (CPPO) has the biggest deployment with 155; Iloilo PPO with 71; Aklan PPO with 40; and Negros Occidental PPO with 33.

1,145 police personnel are also on standby.

Iloilo PPO has 298 personnel who can be deployed at any time; Negros Occidental with 248; Capiz PPO with 170; Antique PPO with 150; Aklan PPO with 104; and Guimaras PPO with 48.

Brigadier General Flynn Dongbo, PRO-6 director, earlier commended police personnel for their efforts in rescuing numerous families affected by flash flood all over the region.

Reports submitted by provincial and city directors revealed that they have deployed personnel in assisting affected families and bringing them to safe places and evacuation areas.

Aside from its manpower, PRO-6 logistics were also utilized such as four-wheeled patrols, trucks, ropes, axes, chainsaws and other available equipment.

“Maraming salamat sa inyong pagiging alerto at agarang pagtulong sa mga nasalanta nating mga kababayan. Ang inyong mabilis na tugon sa dikta ng sitwsayon ay napakahalaga,” Dongbo said, adding that their successful response operations were realized because of their strong partnership with the different local government units.

Dongbo assured the public that all units and its personnel and resources are on stand-by and ready to provide support to those who will be in dire need of rescue and assistance in this time of calamity.

Meanwhile, Fire Chief Superintendent Jerry Candido, BFP regional director, said they have deployed personnel of all fire stations in affected municipalities and cities.

“All personnel in affected areas took part in the rescue efforts,” he said.

Candido said they have also sent two teams to augment BFP personnel in northern Iloilo.

In Capiz, BFP personnel in the towns of Dao, Dumarao, and Cuartero have been actively helping in the rescue operations.

BFP personnel in Ivisan town, which was not affected by flooding, were called to augment nearby fire stations.

The Philippine Army’s 301st Infantry Brigade said they have deployed troops for humanitarian assistance and disaster response in Panay Island.

Brigadier General Marion Sison, 301st Brigade commander, said that troops from 12th and 82nd Infantry Battalions and 33rd CMO Company were sent to flood-hit towns in the provinces of Iloilo and Capiz to help rescue stranded families and individuals and extend other disaster relief efforts to affected communities.

Likewise, 552nd Engr Combat Battalion was deployed for road clearing operations.

Sison said that the 301st Brigade, in coordination with the Department of Social Welfare and Development-Region 6 (DSWD-6) and affected local government units planned and arranged the transport and delivery of food packs through military trucks and Army personnel.

“Our responsibilities do not end with just securing our kababayans. We are also committed to help save the lives of the people, especially during disasters and calamities. This will be done in partnership with other government agencies,” Sison said.


Meanwhile, Typhoon Malakas has entered the Philippine area of responsibility (PAR) and was named Basyang, the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (Pagasa) announced Tuesday.

In a tropical cyclone bulletin issued at noon, PAGASA said Basyang was last spotted 1,435 kilometers East of Southern Luzon as of 11 am, Tuesday.

It had maximum sustained winds of 120 kilometers per hour (kph) near the center and gustiness of up to 150 kph.

While its current trajectory puts it on track of hitting Cagayan Valley or the eastern provinces of Central and Southern Luzon, PAGASA’s forecast tracks show that it will recurve back to the Pacific Ocean.

After entering PAR, Basyang would slowly recurve and exit either Tuesday night or Wednesday morning.

It is then predicted to stay over bodies of water, moving to the east of Japan. By Saturday, PAGASA said that it might weaken back into a severe tropical storm.

Malakas would have no direct impact on the country, but its interaction with Tropical Depression Agaton — also called the Fujiwhara effect — would mean that Malakas would move slowly and may stay longer inside PAR.

PAGASA warned that while Agaton would weaken over the coming hours, it is still expected to bring moderate to heavy rains over different parts of Visayas.

Agaton was last seen at 10 am Tuesday over the vicinity of Balangiga, Samar, according to the state weather bureau.

It was packing maximum sustained winds of 45 kph near the center and gustiness of up to 75 kph.

Tropical Cyclone Wind Signal No. 1 remains hoisted over Eastern Samar, Samar, Northern Samar, Biliran, Leyte, Southern Leyte, and the northeastern portion of Cebu, including Camotes Island.