CAMP AGUINALDO, Quezon City – The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) reported a total of 265,339 individuals rescued in typhoon-affected provinces through continuous search, rescue and retrieval (SRR) operations as of Monday, November 16.

Government forces saved 1,078 lives from the dangerous flooding in Northern Luzon including the Cagayan Province while 263,444 individuals were rescued in Southern Luzon following the wrath of Typhoon Ulysses. SRR teams also helped 817 persons in the National Capital Region which was also affected by the recent typhoon.

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

The military has since deployed a total of 83 SRR teams nationwide to help local government units in their disaster response efforts. The AFP also deployed 83 land assets, nine aircraft, and 18 water assets. Meanwhile, 145 teams remain on standby for possible deployment and augmentation along with 268 land assets, nine aircraft, two vessels and 25 rubber boats.

“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. 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,” AFP Chief of Staff General Gapay said.

In its latest efforts, the AFP sent 32 SRR teams in the provinces of Cagayan and Isabela which were heavily flooded due to the cumulative effects of the recent typhoons and release of water from Magat Dam. It also deployed three Water Search and Rescue (WASAR) teams with three boats while two UH-1H, two Bell-412, and two C295s aircraft are carrying out disaster response and relief missions in Tuguegarao City. An air ambulance is also on standby at the Northern Luzon Command (NOLCOM) for possible deployment.

Three more WASAR teams from the Army Engineers are coming from Villamor Air Base in Pasay and two more from the Naval Forces Northern Luzon departing from San Fernando La Union.

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 totaling to 11,689.

Most recent relief operations conducted were in Cagayan as SRR teams from the Marine Battalion Landing Team-10 together with the local government unit of Aparri, Cagayan distributed food packs to 400 families of Barangay Bisagu as of Sunday. Also transported via C130 aircraft were 1000 boxes of relief goods, 14 boxes of personal protective equipment and 20,000 boxes of face masks and face shields from the Philippine Air Force Headquarters in Pasay to Tuguegarao City.

“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. 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,” General Gapay said.