The cry of a newborn baby inside a military truck was a welcome sound bringing incomparable joy to the exhausted members of emergency response unit, who have been working tirelessly after Bicol was hit by a series of unfortunate events— 3 typhoons in the middle of a pandemic!
Noralyn Ilagan, 29, a resident of Barangay Caranan in Pasacao town of Camarines Sur was rescued by the elements of 9th Infantry Battalion (9IB), Municipal Health Office and Municipal Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office (MDRRMO) Pasacao around 10PM on November 11 while typhoon Ulysses was unleashing its violent winds and heavy rains.
Onboard the 9IB’s KM450, Ilagan who was expecting a baby experienced labor pains. Municipal nurse, Rosario Rado and MDRRMO personnel, Jesica Italia together with Cpl. Pacheco, and PFC Banaña assisted Ilagan until she gave birth to a healthy baby. Both mother and child were later transported to a lying-in in the said town.
The role of the Philippine Army as peacemakers is really more eloquent in pictures than words.
As Typhoon Quinta left the Bicol region, super typhoon Rolly even brought more destructive winds, torrential rains, heavy flood, and in some areas, rampaging mudslides. The Joint Task Force Bicolandia (JTFB) deployed more troops for disaster response operations (DRO) hand in hand with other emergency response units, as its commander Maj. Gen. Henry Robinson directed all units of the 9th Infantry Spear Division to maximize the remaining manpower and assets to attend to the immediate needs of the Bicolanos.
Major General Robinson commended his gallant men and women – “Hanggang may nangangailangan pa ng ating tulong, hindi tayo mag-aalinlangang tumulong. (Until any citizen need to be helped, we will not waiver helping.)
“The Bicolanos can rest easy because the Spear Troopers tasked to serve and secure them are not only equipped with knowledge and skills to help but does all these with compassion reminding all of us that there is hope even in the face a disaster.”
Augmenting the on-going Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Response (HADR) operations, Robinson assured the local constituents of the readiness and availability of his soldiers to boost the capability of their counterparts in the affected local government units, interms of unity, generosity and resiliency.
Non-stop rains, non-stop insurgency
Despite the calamities, communist terrorist groups have been also non-stop in their harassment and extortion activities. But amid the on-going humanitarian missions of the Army in typhoon-stricken areas of Bicol region, it remains vigilant and ready to respond to any reports by the citizens.
A series of engagements in Sorsogon province resulted in the killing of one communist NPA terrorist (CNT) and the capture of five firearms.
The first armed skirmish transpired at around 7:40 in the morning of November 18 after the elements of 31st Infantry Battalion (31IB) conducted a security operation in Barangay San Francisco, Bulusan town, where fierce gunfight between the government troops and at least 20 communist terrorists lasted for 45 minutes forcing the enemies to withdraw in haste. Aside from overrunning the enemy’s hideout with 10 huts and a teach-in facility, troops also captured three anti-personnel mines, 100-meter wire, generator set, printer, stove, LPG tank and terroristic propaganda materials.
Another report was received on the morning of November 19. Elements of 31IB supported by the PNP immediately scoured the vicinity of Barangay San Jose in the same town and encountered at least another 20 comunist terorists. A 40-minute firefight between the two forces resulted in the killing of one CTG member and seizing of three M16 rifles, one M14 rifle, one ingram, five anti-personnel mines, four commercial radios and one antenna radio.
Lt. Col. Eric Culvera, Battalion Commander of 31IB attributed the success of the operations in the growing support and cooperation from the Sorsoganons. “Had it not been for residents’ tip-off, we will not be able to foil CTG’s continuous lawless acts which could worsen the situation of the Bicolanos struggling to rebuild their lives brought by the series of calamities.”