Issue of October 7, 2018
Mt. Province

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Baguio, Benguet DRRM councils carry on search, retrieval ops
by Redjie Melvic Cawis / PIA

ITOGON, Benguet – Search, rescue and retrieval (SRR) operations in Baguio City and Benguet have been turned over to the local governments’ respective disaster risk reduction and management councils.

Last week, the SRR group led by Philippine Army 503rd Infantry Brigade Commander General Leopoldo Imbang turned over the responsibility of the SRR to the local government unit of Itogon.

In his report to the Cordillera DRRMC, Imbang said responders have exerted vigorous efforts locating those who have been reported missing during Typhoon Ompong  they have not been found to date.

Those missing are said to reside or last seen at Sitio 070, Barangay Ucab, Barangay Loacan particularly in Dampingan, in Sitio Luneta; and in barangays Virac and Lucnab in Baguio City. 

As of Oct. 2, 87 human remains/bodies have been retrieved and identified in Itogon, 63 of them from Ucab.

Two remains are unidentified in Ucab,  while eight are still missing in the entire Itogon – four from Loacan, two from Ucab, and two from Virac. 

In Baguio City, two are still missing from Lucnab.

The SRR teams, composed of local police officers, already reached barangays in Itogon as part of their operation. 

Imbang said the SRR operation in Sitio 070 already covered the entire ground zero and even reached the rivers with a team from the Philippine Coastguard.

He said they temporarily stopped the SRR in Ucab since there are only two bodies missing, while several body parts have been recovered and processed by the Cluster on the Management of the Dead and Missing. 

He said DNA samples have been taken from the body parts recovered from the ground zero in Ucab and also from the family and relatives of the two missing individuals.

Imbang commended the more than 1,000 individuals involved in the more than two weeks of SRR operations held in the different parts of Baguio City and Benguet, saying they were “focused, disciplined, and were following a systematic order or concept of operations. Team work and camaraderie were seen among the volunteers while SRR from the mine companies were excellent in their field of digging and effective in using their skills and “native talent” in identifying/locating, fixing, and digging the cadavers.” 

He stressed Philex Mines’ opening an access road to reach level 070 was very helpful for the SRR operations and helped speed up the operations and locating the bodies of the victims buried under the landslide in Ucab. 

Among the teams involved in the SRR were the Armed Forces of the Philippines, Philippine National Police, Bureau of Fire Protection, Philippine Coast Guard and civilian volunteers from Philex Mining Corporation, Benguet Corporation, Lepanto Consolidated Mining Corporation, Itogon-Suyoc Resources Incorporated, Nueva Ecija Governor’s Office, Tarlac Mountaineering Club, Rescue Recon Philippines, Baguio’s Finest Security Agency, Christ’s Commission Fellowship, Vanguard K9, Humedica/PHILEADS, Kabalikat Civicom; and the different DRRMCs of the various cities, municipalities, and provinces.

Police Regional Office-Cordillera Regional Director Rolando Nana said they will continue the SRR to recover and retrieve the remaining missing individuals. 

He said the PRO-Cor will exert all its efforts until all missing have been found in Baguio City and Benguet.

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