Rescuer teams responding to earthquake victims in a rescue boat during a drill / training in Taliptip river on Saturday. Photo by Carmela Reyes-Estrope

BULAKAN, Bulacan—Government rescue teams from Central Luzon and Metro Manila marked their readiness and agility in responding to a major earthquake  through a march and drill activity on Saturday here in observance of disaster preparedness and resiliency month.

More than 300 rescue team members from 17 towns  in Bulacan and representatives from Tarlac province and  groups from Valenzuela, Navotas, Mandaluyong, Quezon City and Paranaque Metro Manila including Police Regional Office 3 and Armed Forces of the Philippines rescue teams and in Central Luzon staged their capabilities in the 18 kilometre “Rescue Mass Assembly for Rescue and Care for Humanity (MARCH)”.

Gov.  Daniel R. Fernando with Ret. BGen Cesar Idio, Director of Operations and Service of the Office of the Civil Defense, Department of National Defense (OCD-DND), Bulacan PDRRMO Head Manuel Lukban Jr.  and other officials with the rescue team participants in the Saturday water and ambulant drill. Photo by Carmela Reyes-Estrope

Governor Daniel Fernando initiated the 18 kilometres drill which is a combination of 500 meters boat rescue, 12 km march and 5 km ambulant system response to further beef up the skills of Bulacan and neighboring areas rescue team members, this time, in responding to an earthquake through the earthquake exercise drill.

Fernando said rescue teams should be familiarized with Bulakan town’s rivers and streets if “The Big One 7.2 magnitude” earthquake hit Metro Manila through the Marikina West Valley Fault Line.

“Bulacan is doing all its preparations for the big developments already in place today like the New International Airport. This includes disaster preparedness and environmental protection that’s why we conduct this drill. We need more trainings and skills development to be attuned with what is coming in our province,” the governor said.

With a scenario of a collapsed bridge brought by a major earthquake, the participants on board the Bulacan Provincial Government and their respective municipal, city government rescue boats crossed a 500 meter rescue operation along Taliptip river near the airport project site.

Participants carrying their victim on spine board staged the drill and march from Barangay Perez, in the boundary of Barangay Taliptip area to Marcelo H. Del Pilar Shrine in Barangay San Nicolas.

Rescuer teams participants carry eEarthquake victims on spine board” as part of the drill along Barangay Maysantol headed to Marcelo H. Del Pilar Shrine in Barangay San Nicolas. Photo by Carmela Reyes-Estrope

Newly installed PDRRMO chief Manuel Lukban Jr. made the hero’s shrine as the first destination point of the drill to signify the billion worth transportation infrastructures that would rise in the birth town of the hero including in other places in Bulacan.

Rescue team participants paid tribute to Marcelo H. Del Pilar at his shrine in Barangay San Nicolas, Bulakan, Bulacan. With them are Bulacan PDRRMO Head Manuel Lukban Jr. and Region 3 NDRRMC OIC Shelby Ruiz (both far right). Photo by Carmela Reyes-Estrope

Lukban said, awareness, familiarity and knowhow, readiness and resiliency should already be achieved today for the said 7.2 magnitude earthquake.

“When the airport operates in this place a few years from now, we should make sure our rescue teams in the province, in Metro Manila, in the region are already familiar with the geographical descriptions and locations. It is very important that we familiarize them now, advance their training and other major preparations,” Lukban told INEWS CORE while in Taliptip river.

National Disaster Risk Reduction Management Council (NDRRMC) Region 3 OIC Shelby Ruiz witnessed the drill and exchanged notes and expertise theories and views with Lukban on the effectiveness of the drill in an actual earthquake.

Ruiz said the drill is a commendable initiative by a local government in time for the month of July’s observance of the national resilience month which also intends to bring awareness of disaster and resiliencies by the government and the communities.

“Mahalaga na laging handa. Lagi tayong nagpapa training para di makalimutan in time for emergencies. Sa inyong. mga rescue teams nakasalalay ang buhay ng tao,” (It is important that we are always ready. We always conduct training to keep our rescue teams abreast particularly during emergencies. The lives and safety of the people are in your hands,”) Fernando added.  

The governor also said that the shocking death of five rescuers from the Bulacan Provincial Disaster Reduction Management Office (PDRRMO) when they all drowned in a flash flood due to typhoon Karding  in September last year despite the high calibre skills of the victims drew them to conduct more trainings and further and advance skills improvements.

Lukban said the five rescuers were not drowned because of questions in their water and flash flood rescue abilities. They are among the top divers and flash flood rescuers of Bulacan PDRRMO.    

According to Donald Manego, Officer II from the PDRRMO the last MARCH drill in Bulacan was held in Calumpit town in 2019.