Dec 082014

AFP chief of staff Gen. Gregorio Pio Catapang: Very good disaster response mechanism. AP FILE PHOTO

MANILA, Philippines—Military teams from the United States, Japan, Singapore and Australia are helping the Philippines assess the damage caused by Tropical Storm “Ruby” to determine the foreign aid required.

Maj. Emmanuel Garcia, commander of the Armed Forces of the Philippines’ Civil Relations Group-7, told reporters on Monday that the United States had deployed nine teams; Japan, eight; Singapore and Australia, four each, to areas affected by the cyclone, internationally known as “Hagupit.”

Garcia said similar offers of military assessment teams were made by Canada, the United Kingdom, Brunei, Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand and China.

He said that a US plane U-28 survey indicated light casualties and no major damage to infrastructure and that food supplies had been prepared in Tacloban City and Cebu province. Survey flights were also scheduled for Borongan City and Dolores and Catarman towns.

Gen. Gregorio Pio Catapang, AFP chief of staff, said a Philippine Air Force (PAF) C-130 cargo plane from Palawan province reached the affected areas in the Visayas at 10 a.m. Monday following clearing operations at Borongan and Catarman airports, which allowed the immediate delivery of relief to typhoon victims.

Catapang said the C-130 was scheduled to fly to Cebu to get relief stocks and transport disaster response teams.

“Borongan airport is now open so that we can bring disaster response teams and deliver relief goods there,” Catapang said.

He said another PAF C-130 departed from Zamboanga City Monday for Cebu to pick up supplies for Borongan.

The Catarman airport was also opened on Monday and clearing operations were being done at Guiuan and Catbalogan airports.

“As of now, we have a very good disaster response mechanism,” Catapang said.

Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin and Catapang were unable to go to Borongan Monday morning because of the bad weather in Manila.

The AFP was also assisting the Department of Social Welfare and Development in delivering relief to Dinagat, Camiguin and Surigao, which reported 36,719 evacuees.

Alexander Pama, executive director of the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council, said 400 troops and 40 vehicles were prepared to assist in the Visayas operations while 600 soldiers were put on alert for deployment to Bataan, Zambales, Pampanga and Bulacan provinces.

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