PCG vows sustained 'Odette' relief ops amid COVID infections among personnel

Published January 14, 2022, 4:18 PM

by Waylon Galvez

Despite more and more personnel of Philippine Coast Guard getting infected with the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), the PCG leadership assured that their relief operations in areas affected by typhoon “Odette” last month will still continue.

Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) personnel and members of the Army help in the unloading of relief goods from the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) to typhoon Odette victims. (PCG Photo)

Commodore Armando Balilo, PCG spokesperson, said Friday, Jan. 14, that measures were done to ensure that Coast Guard members who were infected by the virus while deployed in relief missions will be given immediate medical attention.

“We’re able to manage the situation. If there are positive cases, we immediately isolate them and replace them so that we can continue with the relief operations,” Balilo told Manila Bulletin.

“The relief operations, it’s still a long way. Because more of our countrymen need support to recover after the typhoon. The work of the Coast Guard will continue,” added Balilo.

Last Thursday, Jan. 13, the PCG was forced to temporarily close several more of its offices after it recorded 133 positive cases for COVID-19. On Friday, 13 were able to recover and submit negative results of their RT-PCR swab test that brought the number down to 120 cases.

Majority of the COVID-19 cases in the PCG were from the National Headquarters, prompting the lockdown of its offices starting last Monday. This included the PCG’s Public Affairs, Finance Service, and the Office of the Deputy Chief of Coast Guard Staff for Comptrollership or CG-6.

Other offices that were temporarily locked down were the Internal Audit, the Provost Marshal, the Commission on Audit, the Office of the Command Master Chief Petty Officer, and the Legal Service.

In an effort to lessen the interaction of PCG personnel coming from Manila to various provinces in Visayas and Mindanao to deliver relief goods, the Coast Guard has tapped the assistance of the Philippine Ports Authority.

“They’re assisting in loading the relief items with their (PPA) mechanized haulers, which are very helpful. With that, we limit the interactions of our personnel to our kababayans in the provinces,” said Balilo.

“We also have doctors on board our ships so they can check our PCG personnel when somebody is not feeling well, immediately they isolate even on board the ship – that is what we’ve been doing,” he added.

The relief operations continued Friday as the PCG and the Army jointly conducted a transport mission to the affected families in Halian Island and Caub Island, Surigao del Norte.

PCG and Army personnel utilized BRP Bagacay (MRRV-4410) in ferrying 750 family packs, 150 gallons of mineral water, 15 rolls of tarpaulins, five sacks of clean clothes, and hygiene kits from the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD).

In Dinagat Island, the PCG District Northeastern Mindanao and BRP Cape San Agustin (MRRV-4408) transported another batch of relief items to families residing in Barangay Cab-Ilan.

PCG District Northeastern Mindanao Commander, CG Captain Dennie Pandeagua turned over gallons of mineral water, boxes of canned goods, sacks of rice, slippers, mats, and bath towels to the concerned local government unit for immediate distribution to the residents.