FORT BONIFACIO, Taguig City – Army soldiers all over the archipelago are willing to voluntarily donate one day of their subsistence allowance to the flood victims in Mindanao.
Army Chief Major General Emmanuel T Bautista said that the Philippine Army heeds to the earlier call of Armed Forces of the Philippines Chief of Staff Lieutenant General Jessie Dellosa to donate one day of their meal subsistence allowance to the victims of tropical storm Sendong.
“I have directed all Army personnel to set aside a one-day subsistence allowance to generate funds for the affected communities. Likewise, I urged them to collect used clothing, goods and other items useful in the jam-packed evacuation centers. I emphasized that this is on voluntary basis,” said Bautista.
Major Harold M Cabunoc, Army Spokesperson, said that senior officers in the Army headquarters have set the best example by leading the effort of generating funds and relief goods.
“Our Army Chief himself has given his one day meal allowance for this undertaking. Most of our soldiers will not hesitate to follow the good example shown by our commander,” said Cabunoc.
Cabunoc said collection points have been established in the different parts of the country. In Luzon, the Philippine Army headquarters in Fort Bonifacio will serve as the repository of the collected relief items, the 3rd Infantry Division headquarters in the Visayas, and the 6th and 10th Infantry Divisions in Mindanao. The 1st and 4th Infantry Divisions based in Zamboanga and Cagayan de Oro respectively were also directed to maximize their disaster response efforts.
“In the spirit of Bayanihan, I am confident that our soldiers understand the need to contribute a part of what we have for our less fortunate brothers and sisters. This is service beyond the call of duty,” added Bautista.
The Philippine Army will coordinate with the local government units in the area for the distribution of the relief goods.
Army: The first responder
As a pro-active measure, the 4th Infantry Division based in Cagayan de Oro City deployed two teams composed of 14 members each on board two M35 trucks near Lim Ketkai Center in Brgy. Lapasan as early as 10 pm on December 16 at the height of the flash floods.
At about 12:04 am on December 17, said troops were able to immediately respond to the information received by 4ID that Brgy. Cugman is already flooded and people are already rushing to their rooftops for safety.
Soon after, overwhelming volume of calls and messages came in.
“The Division’s Disaster Relief and Rescue Operations Team tried to attend to all those asking for help but the number grew bigger and bigger as the hours pass by,” said Major Eugenio Osias, Commanding Officer of the 4th Civil Military Operations Battalion.
At 3 am on December 17, all available personnel of 4ID were called by Major General Victor A Felix, 4ID Commander, to maximize rescue efforts.
A centralized Division Disaster Relief and Rescue Operations Monitoring Committee was immediately formed.
A total of 352 4ID troopers were initially deployed to the 17 priority barangays of Cagayan de Oro City utilizing seven M35 trucks, two KM450 truck, two KM250 trucks, one longbed truck, one Mitsubishi truck, three military rubber boats, one civilian rubber boat, three speedboats and two motorboats.
Soon after, more and more soldiers and civilians joined to help in the relief and rescue operations.
Felix declared an all-out support to the newly formed CDO Disaster and Risk Reduction Management Center to help in the rescue and retrieval operations in the province.
“As of today, rescue and retrieval operations are still on-going and the number of fatalities and affected families continue to rise. With the creation of the City’s Joint Center, 4ID believes that the city would be able to rise up from this calamity in a short span of time,” said Felix.