"They put their own lives in danger."
Let’s take a moment to salute the unsung heroes of the devastation of recent typhoons, particularly the widespread flooding in the Cagayan Valley region wrought by Ulysses.
Hundreds of lives were saved with the help of uniformed personnel from the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) major services, namely Philippine Army (PA), Philippine Navy (PN), and Philippine Air Force (PAF).
Rescue teams during the onslaught of typhoons Quinta, Rolly and Ulysses also included those from Philippine Coast Guard (PCG), Philippine National Police (PNP), and the Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP).
In complete darkness, rescuers found families stranded atop their roofs when flood water engulfed their areas in the wee hours last Friday the 13th. This was after the reckless release of massive water from Magat Dam by the National Irrigation Administration (NIA).
It would have been horribly more disastrous if it were not for the heroic efforts of those men in uniform.
Search, rescue and retrieval (SRR) teams scoured the areas in complete darkness, responding to shouts and cries for help.
Putting their own lives in danger, soldiers, airmen, sailors, marines, policemen and firemen braved heavy rains and floods to save Filipino civilians in distress, including small children and senior citizens.
AFP chief-of-staff Gen. Gilbert Gapay assured the Armed Forces will work with the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council, Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG), Office of Civil Defense (OCD), and the Philippine Red Cross (PRC) to save more lives.
Now the people’s agony continues eight months since President Duterte has ordered the entire Luzon placed under lockdown due to the coronavirus outbreak. He has declared a state of calamity covering the entire island.
More than 100,000 people have remained in evacuation centers as over 200 barangays in Cagayan, Isabela, Pampanga and Bulacan provinces were still flooded this week.
Ulysses also left some P2.5 billion in damaged crops, farms and agricultural infrastructure, the Department of Agriculture said.
The AFP has deployed SRR teams nationwide with land, air and water assets to help local government units (LGUs) in their disaster response efforts.
Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana, NDRRMC head, directed the state weather service Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) to strengthen its warnings about approaching storms.
The NDRRMC will convene a technical working group to assess the current management of dams in the light of extensive flooding in Cagayan and Isabela provinces blamed on the spilling of water from Magat Dam.
PNP chief Gen. Debold Sinas on Saturday also came to Cagayan Valley to personally oversee the relief and rescue efforts of police personnel in the province.
Policemen were also instrumental in rescue operations in Metro Manila, particularly in Marikina where 6,000 families were evacuated.
To salute and honor the uniformed men for their heroism during calamities is in order.