Over 265k residents rescued by gov’t troops in Ulysses-hit areas — AFP

Robie de Guzman   •   November 16, 2020   •   847

MANILA, Philippines – Government troops deployed to areas hit by Typhoon Ulysses have rescued a total of 265,339 individuals, the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) said Monday.

The AFP said 1,078 lives were saved from the dangerous flooding in Northern Luzon including the Cagayan Province; while 263,444 individuals were rescued in Southern Luzon following the onslaught of Ulysses.

In Metro Manila, the search, rescue and retrieval (SRR) teams also assisted a total of 817 residents, it added.

“Our soldiers, airmen, sailors, and marines have switched their firearms with ropes, life rings, and life jackets to respond to the cries for help during heavy and widespread flooding that affected our people,” AFP Chief of Staff General Gilbert Gapay said in a statement.

“The AFP leads the SRR cluster and continues to work with other government agencies to save more lives amidst the challenges brought by natural calamities and a global pandemic,” he added.

Among the members of the SRR cluster of the National Disaster Risk Reduction Management Council (NDRRMC) are the Bureau of Fire Protection, Philippine Coast Guard, Philippine National Police, Department of Health–Health Emergency Management Staff, Department of the Interior and Local Government, Office of Civil Defense and Philippine Red Cross.

The military said it has deployed a total of 83 SRR teams nationwide to help local government units in their disaster response efforts.

It also dispatched 83 land assets, nine aircraft, and 18 water assets to help in the operations.

The AFP also launched the Tulong Bayanihan program, a civil-military operations initiative that turns military camps into donation drop-off centers for those who wish to donate and send help to affected individuals.

The military is likewise assisting in the distribution and transportation of food and non-food items in affected communities in Northern and Southern Luzon.

A total of 9,110 relief goods were distributed by personnel from NOLCOM; while 2,579 were disseminated by Southern Luzon Command.

“While the AFP has started to shift to relief efforts in some areas, our responding teams continue to brave heavily-flooded communities to conduct search, rescue and retrieval operations in the hopes of rescuing more individuals,” Gapay said.

“Our resilience and Bayanihan have allowed us to hurdle obstacles. We call on everyone to hold on to safety as help is on the way and help will come,” he added.

The AFP chief said more than 100 teams on standby for possible deployment and augmentation along with military assets.

COVID-19 inoculation mandatory but soldiers can choose brand – AFP spox

Robie de Guzman   •   February 25, 2021

MANILA, Philippines – The vaccination of military personnel against the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) will be mandatory although the soldiers can choose which brand to receive, the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) said on Thursday.

In a virtual press briefing, AFP Spokesperson Major General Edgard Arevalo said all soldiers will be obliged to get inoculated as ordered by AFP chief of staff Lieutenant General Cirilito Sobejana.

The directive came even as the military has yet to ascertain where its vaccine supply will be coming from, or if they are among those who will receive the first 600,000 doses of Sinovac vaccines donated by the Chinese government.

“Ang Sandatahang Lakas ng Pilipinas po is not like any ordinary organizations. Tayo po ay nasa service-orientated organization. Tayo po ang inaasahan sa napakaraming mabibigat na tungkulin kagaya nga po ng pagharap sa pandemya as early as 2020. Kaya sinabi natin na hindi opsyon ang pag-ayaw. Subalit kinikilala natin yung kanilang kagustuhan ng brand na gusto nila” he said.

Military personnel who will be choosing other brands of the vaccine will need to pay for their own jabs, Arevalo said.

Those who refuse to get vaccinated will face sanctions under military rules, he added.

“We are an organization under military regulations. So, ang pagtupad sa mga regulasyon o sa mga tinatadhana ng existing legal orders buhat sa ating mga superiors just like this one from the AFP Chief of Staff, no less, will be dealt with disciplinary actions kung hindi nila susundin,” he said.

“But we are confident na hindi na tayo darating sa punto na iyon,” he added.

The AFP said all its employees and troops assigned in the medical and healthcare units will be the first to get inoculated against COVID-19.

The donated Sinovac COVID-19 vaccines from China are expected to arrive in the country this weekend. RRD (with details from Correspondent Joan Nano)

Four Lumad parents of rescued children taken by suspected communist militants

Aileen Cerrudo   •   February 23, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — Four parents of the rescued Lumad children were taken by suspected communist militants, according to the Philippine National Police (PNP).

PNP chief PGen. Debold Sinas cited reports that the parents were supposed to meet with the police in Davao del Norte on Monday (February 22) for their trip to Cebu City However, only two parents showed up.

Reports also stated that the four Lumad parents were taken on Sunday (February 21) by suspected organizers of communist front groups who posed as police officers.

“Obviously, these four parents were lured into believing they would be meeting with their children in Cebu when they were taken by persons who disguised themselves as police officers,” Sinas said.

The PNP chief added that the said stunt was a desperate move of communist front organizations to get away from criminal liability of serious illegal detention and child exploitation.

Sinas also assured that police authorities are already exerting efforts to locate the parents.

The Ata Manobo children were among the 19 Lumad minors who were brought to Cebu City by communist front.

Reports indicate that the children were undergoing radicalization and revolutionary warfare indoctrination.

AFP confirms PSG personnel vaccinated vs COVID-19 experienced no side effects

Aileen Cerrudo   •   February 19, 2021

MANILA, Philippines—The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) has confirmed that members of the Presidential Security Group (PSG) who received COVID-19 vaccine shots have not experienced adverse side effects.

AFP Spokesperson Maj. Gen. Edgard Arevalo, in a statement, said the personnel volunteered to get vaccinated to make sure President Rodrigo Duterte will be safe from the COVID-19 virus.

The personnel received criticisms after they were inoculated without proper government authorization.

“We are pleased that PSG Personnel who have volunteered to be vaccinated in the pursuit of their mission to protect the President did not only perform a selfless act. They were also safe as an aftermath of the inoculation. No adverse side effects as we speak,” Arevalo said.

Last week, the Palace confirmed that the Food and Drug Administration granted the PSG a compassionate permit for the use of 10,000 doses of Sinopharm’s COVID-19 vaccine. -AAC (with reports from Lea Ylagan)

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