FORT ANDRES BONIFACIO, Tagugi City (DWDD) – The 525th Engineer Combat Battalion (ECB), and Army K9 Battalion of the Philippine Army was tapped to support the conduct of rescue and retrieval operation along with other government agencies and civil groups since September 17, 2018 at Brgy Ucab, Itogon, Benguet wherein numerous casualties were reported due to wide-scale mudslide brought about by Typhoon Ompong.
The 525th ECB aside from being a combat support unit, has been primarily tasked as the Philippine Army Disaster Response Unit (PA DRU) while the K9 unit, aside from its usual duty as bomb detection entity can also be utilized to complex emergencies to save human lives.
The ECB composed of six Search and Rescue Retrieval (SRR) teams with their heavy equipment and specialized tools is providing the much-needed workforce as well as teams from K9 Search and Rescue (SAR) that compliments in detecting victims buried under the mud.
As of the latest, there are 39 dead, 65 missing, and 15 who suffered minor injuries and already in the process of recovery at their respective homes.
There are 337 families who have been evacuated out of the area
to reduce exposure to hazards and were given food, water, shelter and also medical care.
Rescuers are now facing difficulties in removing boulders of rocks and the hardening mud due to the warming weather. In this condition, the troops are working relentlessly for a speedy retrieval and rescue operations in the hopes of saving more lives.
Lt. Gen. Rolando Joselito D. Bautista, Commanding General, Philippine Army extend his sympathy to the families in the tragic loss of their loved ones and he also assured the unwavering support of the Command for the rescue and relief efforts.
“The Philippine Army share the grief in this tragic loss and is mourning with our people. We urge the citizens to unite in this worthy endeavor to support the Army troops and other rescue workers,” said Lt. Col. Louie Villanueva, the Army Spokesperson. OACPA / MCAG