The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) placed on standby status around 4,860 soldiers for possible humanitarian and disaster response (HADR) operations as the entire military has been placed on red alert status due to super typhoon “Rolly.”
In a press briefing Sunday, All Saints’ Day, AFP chief Gen. Gilbert Gapay said the regular forces were from the joint task forces of the Northern Luzon Command (NolCom), South Luzon Command (SolCom), Central Command (CentCom) in Visayas, and National Capital Region (JTF-NCR).
The regular forces were augmented by some 2,000 Civilian Armed Force Geographical Unit (CAFGU) members and 1,000 military reservists, he noted.
The AFP regular and augmentation forces comprised the military’s Disaster Response Task Force which was activated as early as Friday, Oct. 30.
“We have continuous coordination between the different task forces and regional DRRMCs (disaster risk reduction and management councils) and LGUs (local government units) as well as other government agencies for possible HADR operations,” Gapay said.
Red alert status means that all disaster response teams and mobility assets in military camps on the direct path of Rolly were readied for possible deployment.
Six aircraft from the Philippine Air Force and four ships from the Philippine Navy were also prepared to perform disaster response operations.
Gapay prepped up personnel of the JTF-NCR in Camp Aguinaldo, Quezon City as they were placed on standby for possible field operations in areas devastated by Rolly.
“Let us maintain that high state of readiness. I am confident in our preparation, our dedication, the sound leadership of our commanders, and our unity and teamwork that we will weather the impact of super yphoon Rolly,” he said.
Meanwhile, the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) deployed 1,520 personnel to man the inspection of sea ports in various parts of the country, especially in areas where sea travels are prohibited.
PCG Commandant Admiral Goerge Usabia Jr. said their Command Center, all Coast Guard dsitricts, stations, and sub-stations were ordered to go on standby to immediately respond during emergency situations.
Usabia led the inspection of the Manila Yacht Club on Roxas Boulevard on Sunday morning where he noted that all the vessels adhered to his command to take shelter while a “no sail” policy was in effect in high-risk areas.
He also advised all vessel operators in areas affected by Rolly to secure their port equipment and infrastructures, and ensure that a sufficient number of crew were on standby for possible deployment.
PCG spokesperson Commodore Armand Balilo said they have monitored extremely rough sea condition in 13 ports in Bicol region as of early Sunday.
This meant that there was zero visibility, strong winds, and big waves in these ports.
These were in ports of Pioduran, Legazpi, Bacacay, Rapu-Rapu, Tabaco, and Pasacao, in Albay; Masbate City, San Jacinto, San Pascual, Cataingan, and Aroroy in Masbate; and Matnog and Pilar in Sorsogon.
A total of 1,013 passengers, drivers, and helpers as well as three vessels, two motorbancas, and 443 rolling cargoes were stranded in these ports, Balilo said.
In Southern Tagalog, Balilo said 147 passengers and helpers, two vessels, seven motorbancas, and 211 rolling cargoes were stranded in the ports of Batangas; Calapan, Oriental Mindoro; Ambulong, Occidental Mindoro; Balanacan, Marinduque; Carmen and Sta. Fe in Cavite; Looc and Cajidiocan in Romblon; and Lucena and Real in Quezon.
There were also 183 passengers and helpers, three vessels, 110 motorbancas, and eight rolling cargoes that were stranded at the North Port Passenger Terminal, Pritil Wharf, Talim Island, and Cardona Fishport in Metro Manila.
In Eastern Visayas (Region 8), 540 individuals, 62 vessels, and 164 rolling cargoes were stranded in the ports of Sta. Clara and Balwartico in Northern Samar; and Dapdap in Eastern Samar.
The Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippine (CAAP) reported that the Legazpi Airport sustained minimal damage from Rolly.
Legazpi Airport Manager Cynthia Tumanut said: “God is good…We are all safe…Legazpi airport passenger terminal building sustained mimimal damge. Pahina na po ang hangin dito.” (with a report from Ariel Fernandez)