After days of intense search and rescue operations, the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) announced Tuesday that it has changed its priority to massive relief and rehabilitation efforts in areas that were devastated by various typhoons.
General Gilbert Gapay, AFP Chief, said all available sea, air, and land assets were mobilized for the transport of tons of relief goods, construction materials for families whose houses were destroyed, and heavy engineering equipment for storm-devastated areas.
The Philippine Navy (PN) sent off the landing dock, BRP Tarlac (LD601), for humanitarian assistance and disaster response (HADR) mission to Catanduanes in Region 5 which was battered by super typhoon “Rolly” earlier this month and typhoon “Ulysses” last week.
Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana witnessed the send off of BRP Tarlac which carried around 255 tons of assorted relief goods and construction materials from different government agencies, non-government organizations, and private individuals at Pier 15 in South Harbor, Manila.
The BRP Tarlac was skippered by Navy Captain Norman Mutia while personnel from the Sealift Amphibious Force of the Philippine Fleet boarded the landing dock to serve as primary forces.
BP Tarlac also carried heavy equipment, trucks and trailers from the Naval Combat Engineering Brigade and Marine Battalion Landing Team (MBLT) 9 for clearing operations.
“I convey the gratitude of the Commander-in-Chief, President Rodrigo Duterte, and extend the feeling of pride of the One Defense Team to our officers and enlisted personnel of the AFP who have been at the forefront, saving lives in almost all areas devastated by typhoons Rolly and Ulysses,” Lorenzana told the troops before they sailed.
With a length of 123 meters, beam of 21.8 meters, and draft of five meters, the BRP Tarlac is one of the largest assets of the Philippine Navy which was programmed as a military sealift and transport vessel. It is a critical asset for civil-military operations and HADR due to its capability to transport large number of personnel, logistics, and supplies.
The Philippine Air Force (PAF) also mobilized its personnel and several military trucks to send relief items to Cagayan in Region 2.
Members of the PAF’s Air Defense Command (ADC), Air Logistics Command (ALC), 710th Special Operations Wing (710 SPOW), and Tactical Operations Wing in Northern Luzon (TOWNOL) transported food packs, potable water, clothes, and construction materials among others for thousands of families affected by massive flooding in the province.
Other military units who were involved in various relief and rehabilitation missions include the Philippine Army’s Joint Task Force – National Capital Region (JTF-NCR) who conducted a clearing operations at the FVR road loop in Barangay Olandes and Industrial Valley in Marikina City; and Task Force Lingkod Cagayan and Marine Battalion Landing Team-10 who distributed family food packs in the municipalities of Alcala, Amulung, Aparri, Lasam, Solana, Tuguegarao City and at the provincial capitol in Cagayan.
“Iyan ang assurance ni President Duterte, sabi niya nobody is left behind. Lahat ng agency ng gobyerno tutulong ‘yan (This is the assurance of President Duterte, he said that nobody is left behind. All agencies of the government will help,” Lorenzana.