91st IB joins 4th national earthquake drill to ensure safety, preparedness in Casiguran, Aurora

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By Jason De Asis

BALER, Aurora-The Philippine Army’s 91st Infantry “Sinagtala” Battalion participated in the nationwide simultaneous earthquake drill (NSED) on Thursday, Nov. 9 to promote the importance of disaster preparedness and mitigation to all stakeholders, as well as to strengthen the response mechanism and interoperability of all local key players held in Barangay Esteves, Casiguran, Aurora.

Lt. Col. Julito B. Recto, Jr., commander of 91st IB said that the Sinagtala troopers took part in the activity to ensure the safety and preparedness of the government agencies, security forces, responders, community among other in the event of a real earthquake, tsunami and its aftermath.

Recto said that personnel of 91st IB personnel along with other agencies and organizations, demonstrated the proper way to respond to an earthquake by conducting a drop, cover, and hold drill. He said the government’s initiative to conduct nationwide earthquake drills every quarter aims to encourage disaster preparedness and resilience in the residents of Aurora.

Based on the simulation exercise, at 9 in the morning, a normal weekday, a powerful 7.5 magnitude earthquake rumbled through Barangay Esteves, Casiguran, Aurora and sent shocks of panic and confusion to the community. In the aftermath of the earthquake, the community faces another terrifying threat.

A few minutes after, what was feared had happened, a monstrous tsunami, towering 3 meters high struck with unimaginable force surging toward the shoreline with unstoppable momentum.

As the water subsided there were victims of floating in the waters and lying near the shorelines at Sitio Buwaya. Upon receiving the report, the Search Rescue and Retrieval (SRR) Team arrived at the scene composed of 91st IB, Philippine Army, Philippine Coast Guard, Philippine Navy and other local disaster personnel.

The SRR team navigated through debris, mud, and wreckage left by the tsunami. Boarding a boat the brave SRR team navigate the shoreline and retrieve the floating bodies of lifeless victims.

A total of 3 bodies were retrieved by the team at Sitio Buwaya. Recto congratulated the NSED participants, saying that the activity was fruitful. “Our local government units and the general public will be aware and prepared in case a big earthquake happens. We should continually do the training, preparations and awareness programs to embark in the minds of our people to be always ready and prepared in case of disasters. NSED serves as a vital reminder of the importance of disaster readiness in a country prone to seismic activities,” Recto said.

On the other hand, lawyer Benjamin “Benhur” C. Abalos, Jr., Department of Local Government (DILG) Secretary said the 4th Quarter NSED is an opportunity to prepare the people (Kababayans) for the challenges of earthquakes in the country.

He added that this is the perfect time for such groundwork and practices, for earthquakes come with no advance notice. “I salute the NDRRMC, particularly the OCD and Phivolcs, for relentlessly and tirelessly spearheading the NSEDs and other disaster-proofing initiatives. Maraming salamat po sa inyong pangunguna at sa pagtugon sa panawagan ni Pangulong Ferdinand Marcos, Jr. na ihanda ang mga Pilipino sa nakaambang “The Big One”,” Abalos said in his message as read by DILG Aurora Provincial Director Ener Cambronero.

It is further said that more and more local government units or LGUs across the country are joining hands and participating in the NSED in their own localities. “I express my gratitude to these LGUs for seeing the urgency and relevance of these drills in ensuring the safety of their constituents. Nothing beats a prepared LGU when it comes to disasters.

The DILG, as the Vice Chair for Disaster Preparedness of the NDRRMC, remains united with the national and local governments in bridging and capacitating the communities towards disaster resilience,” he said.

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