LEGAZPI CITY – The Philippine Army (PA) in Bicol reactivated its “Task Force Sagip” a military disaster mitigating and response group that would assist various local disaster councils across the region in evacuation, rescue and relief operation, the Office of Civil Defense (OCD) in Bicol said Tuesday.
Raffy Alejandro, OCD director and Regional Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (RDRRMC) chairperson, said the Armed Forces of the Philippines (Army, Navy and Airforce), the Philippine National Police (PNP) and Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) have joined forces to address a regional emergency at the onset of Tropical Storm Chedeng expected to hover the region on Wednesday and Thursday.
Landrico Dalida, Philippine Atmospheric Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) in a briefing today said TS Chedeng has entered the Philippine Area of Responsibility (PAR) today 540 kms East of Borongan, Eastern Samar with a maximum winds of 105 kph near the center and gustiness of up to 135 kph.
Chedeng has slowed down moving West Northwest with a speed of 13 kph with 480 kms in diameter at the center, it is expected to hover the Bicol region on Wednesday and Thursday bringing moderate to heavy rains in the entire Bicol region.
Dalida said the intensity of Chedeng is similar to that of Typhoon Bebeng that hit Bicol last May 7 with heavy rains that triggered floods and landslides in the provinces of Sorsogon, Albay, Camarines Sur and Camarines Norte.
He said heavy rains spawned by Chedeng as it hovers Bicol on Wednesday would pelt the eastern and western seaboard of Albay affecting all the towns and cities of the province.
PAGASA hoisted storm signal number one in the provinces of Catanduanes, Camarines Sur, Albay, Sorsogon and Samar provinces.
Alejandro said as a pre-emptive disaster measure the RDRRMC would “muster” all possible assets (personnel and equipments) of the AFP, PNP, PCG and the BFP, the scenario calls for the deployment of personnel and assets to critical areas prone to flooding and landslides.
He said a team from the Navy would be prepositioned in the towns of Milaor, San Fernando in Camarines Sur, team from the PCG will be assigned to the town of Nabua, Camarines Sur; two teams from the PNP will handle Sorsogon; six teams from the Army with a rubber boat swill cover six towns in the 3rd district of Albay; a team from PAF will cover this city and two teams from BFP will be assigned at the PDRRMC.
Army BGen Marlou Salazar, deputy commanding officer of the 9th Infantry Division (ID) said the Army’s disaster response team is composed of 346 soldiers, 36 military trucks, two ambulances, a bulldozer, a back hoe, a grader and three rubber boats.
Albay Gov. Joey Salceda, PDRRMC chair said “Mustering of troops” is invariably a preparation to wage war and do battle versus disaster. While essentially it is like a “prepositioning of assets”, “mustering” moves the assets much closer to the theatre of operations to give support more to the evacuation efforts by LGUs than rescue operations.
He said this avoids the possible problems that could arise and obstruct their movement due to heavy floods (army trucks can only safely navigate at most 5 feet of floods) or the more difficult landslides or road settlements that would require clearing, thus losing precious time that may save one more life and even require additional equipment (backhoe or bulldozer).
In Albay, 6 teams will be mustered, assigned and rapidly deployed tomorrow — Polangui, Libon, Oas, Pioduran, Pantao and Albay West Coast, and Malinao, this are flood prone areas. (PNA)