AFP honors four search, rescue heroes
By Dona Pazzibugan
Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 03:02:00 01/13/2011http://newsinfo.inquirer.net/inquirerheadlines/nation/view/20110113-314125/AFP-honors-four-search-rescue-heroes
, Philippines—Four uniformed personnel who lost their lives in trying to rescue victims of Typhoons “Ondoy” (international codename: Ketsana) and “Pepeng” (Parma) and a mining engineer were among those recognized for their heroic acts during the annual Gawad Kalasag Awards Wednesday.
The National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council awarded the five—four of them posthumously—for their “selfless acts of courage and compassion” in rescue operations in recent disasters.
Seaman 2 Honorio Erna of the Philippine Coast Guard (Region IV-B) volunteered to join a daring rescue effort for two fishermen reported missing in the waters off Ambil Lubang, Occidental Mindoro, at the height of Ondoy in October 2009.
For two hours, the 11-member rescue team was tossed about in a motorized banca (boat), the MBCA Chelsea Lisse.
“And just as they had just called off the search and rescue operation, the MBCA Chelsea Lisse was battered by strong, powerful gigantic waves which caused the motorized banca’s outrigger to break heavily, throwing SN2 Erna overboard,” the award said.
Erna is still missing. His father, Leovino Erna, received the plaque during the awarding ceremonies at the Armed Forces of the Philippines Commissioned Officers’ Club in Camp Aguinaldo.
Aside from the plaque, the award also carried a P50,000 cash prize.
Senior Fire Officers 3 Siegfred Ngoloban and Richard Balusdan and Fire Office 2 Benedict Tumayan of the Bureau of Fire Protection (Cordillera Administrative Region) were also posthumously awarded the Gawad Kalasag for their heroism.
They took part in a number of rescue efforts for landslide victims in Baguio City and Benguet province during Pepeng’s onslaught in November 2009.
But in the process they were buried in boulders, mud and other debris together with the trapped victims they were determined to rescue.
“This Gawad Kalasag is a testament to the selfless gamble rescuers take in trying to keep others away from harm while putting behind their own safety in the highest display of public service,” their award read.
The wives of Ngoloban and Balusdan received their award, while the award for Tumayan was received by his daughter.
Joel Son was on hand to receive his award.
He was recognized for leading a team from Philex Mining Corp. in searching for survivors of a Presidential Security Group helicopter crash in Tinoc, Ifugao; for looking for a group of treasure hunters who went missing in Mayantoc, Tarlac; and for rescuing landslide victims in Kias, Baguio City, and in Cresencia Village, Bokawkan Road, also in Baguio; and for taking part in road-clearing and blasting operations in Ambuklao Road, Tublay Road and Kennon Road.
The award said the Philex rescuers led by Son “encountered various types of high-degree risks to their own lives” but they successfully rescued survivors and recovered victims in all their missions.
Awards for 3 groups
Three groups of individuals also received the Gawad Kalasag 2010 Award for “heroic acts during emergency response and rescue operations.”
Civilian Rogelio Jimenez and three others were recognized for rescuing four shipwreck victims off Balabac town in Palawan province. The victims were trapped in their canoe-type vessel after a storm.
Jimenez himself was a shipwreck survivor. His pump boat was wrecked due to Typhoon “Frank” (Fengshen) and he was rescued after six days at sea on June 20, 2008, by the crew of the cargo vessel LPG Linda.
“At the first instance given him, he gladly returned the favor by being a Good Samaritan to four persons who were trapped in their shipwrecked canoe-type vessel,” the award said.
The La Trinidad Municipal Police Station in Benguet was cited for its “outstanding display of excellence in disaster risk management and humanitarian assistance.”
The police station was hailed for adopting the concept of a community-oriented policing system which “significantly contributed to their overall success in handling natural and human-induced hazards.”
The Gawad Kalasag was also given to the Tactical Operations Group 10 of the Philippine Air Force’s 3rd Air Division for successful search and rescue operations in Misamis Oriental province in three instances.
They helped rescue victims of flash floods in Cagayan de Oro City on Jan. 3, 2009, in Misamis Oriental on Jan. 11, 2009, and in Cagayan de Oro City and three towns in Misamis Oriental on Nov. 25, 2009 due to Typhoon “Urduja.”
The award said the members of the Tactical Operations Group 10 lived up to their slogan, “Saving Lives, Whenever, Wherever.”
Gawad Kalasag started in 1998 to recognize and reward civilian and government individuals and organizations for humanitarian assistance and disaster relief.
Gawad Kalasag recognizes self-help or voluntary efforts to protect high-risk communities against disasters since its primary concept is, “we should help ourselves first and foremost before others come to help us.”
Quirino Memorial Medical Center was cited as Best Disaster Risk Management for Hospitals; Cabasi-Sta. Rosa Elementary School in Region VI as Best Disaster Risk Management for Schools; and the Pasig City Search and Rescue and the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority Fire Rescue Group as Best Government Emergency Managers.
The 505 2nd Search and Rescue Auxiliary Squadron, Antique Chapter, was recognized as the Best Volunteer Organization; Child Sponsorship for Community Development Inc. in Legazpi City as the Best NGO on Humanitarian Assistance; and Barangay Sta. Rita, Olongapo City, and Barangay Poblacion in Tupi, South Cotabato, as the Best Barangay Disaster Coordinating Council.
The municipality of San Jose De Buenavista in Antique and Guimbal in Iloilo were cited Best Municipal Disaster Coordinating Councils; Makati City and Bayawan City for the Best City Disaster Coordinating Councils; and Albay for the Best Provincial Disaster Coordinating Council.
Olongapo City was elevated to the Hall of Fame for having been awarded the Best City Disaster Coordinating Council three times.