I’M doffing my hat to all officers and men of the Philippine National Police headed by General Jun Azurin who really did an excellent job in saving countless lives during the onslaught of severe tropical storm ‘Paeng’ late last week.
While unaffected Filipinos could only watch the horror brought about by massive flooding, landslides and watch dead bodies in television and the social media, our policemen, along with other security forces and disaster rescue teams were out there in the affected areas.
These modern-day heroes were braving rampaging floodwater and knee-deep mud just to rescue the sick, the old and the young who were trapped inside their houses, without food and water and electricity for days.
As of press time, the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council said that the number of ‘Paeng’ fatalities has already risen to 110, 59 of them from the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao.
Another 101 were also reported injured while 33 went missing and are still the subject of ongoing ‘search-and-rescue’ operations by the police and the military. The NDRRMC said ‘Paeng’ also displated nearly 866,000 persons, with many of them currently staying in over 2,700 government-run evacuation centers.
The actual cost of damage to agricultural crops and infrastructure is yet to be fully established but they are expected be worth billions of pesos. Let’s pray that tropical storm ‘Queenie’ won’t be as destructive as ‘Paeng.’
On Sunday, Gen. Azurin lauded his men for ensuring there will be no incidents of ‘looting’ in many areas of the country ravaged by ‘Paeng.’ He also said that the PNP will stay focused to ensure order and security during the week even as “we remain preoccupied with post–disaster response operations in the aftermath of Severe Tropical Storm Paeng that wreaked havoc in many parts of the country over the weekend.”
Commendations are in order for thousands of police responders who performed their disaster response duties amidst the onslaught of the deadly storm. They include the different police regional offices and PNP national operational support units with ‘search-and-rescue capabilities’ led by the PNP Special Action Force.
“ I am satisfied to note that the factors of effective command and control, teamwork and frontline leadership, proper training and equipment, perseverance, and attitude, all contributed to the successful accomplishment of the disaster response mission of the PNP with zero casualty among police responders,” Gen. Azurin said.
“Moreover, all police units in affected areas remained intact, fully functional, and ably performed police operations resulting in orderly evacuation, and overall peace and order with no reported incidents of looting in evacuated communities,” the top cop added.
On Monday, the PNP chief also called on the public to also remember and pray for countless policemen and soldiers who have offered the ultimate sacrifice in service of the country.
“We humbly request that you include in your prayers our departed brothers and sisters in the uniformed services– the nameless and countless policemen, soldiers, sailors, and airmen who have crossed into the great beyond through their own unselfish offering of supreme sacrifice to let generations see our country free. May their brave souls rest in peace,” said the top cop.
Gen. Azurin said that the 226,000-strong police force joined the nation in the solemn traditional observance of All Saints’ Day and All Souls’ Day through their religious devotions and paying homage to our dearly departed while performing their duties at the same time.
“As the nation enjoys the festive atmosphere of the long holiday, some 192,000 Philippine National Police personnel remain on duty to ensure the peaceful and meaningful observance of this celebration,” he said.
The PNP established 5,784 Police Assistance Desks in 4,769 public cemeteries, private memorial parks, columbaria and catacombs across the country to assist the public. Officers manning these desks were instructed to dutifully perform their assigned tasks with the ideal balance of firm decisiveness and reasonable flexibility within the bounds of law, Gen. Azurin said.
The result as they always say is a generally peaceful observance of ‘Undas.’ Thanks to our policemen, soldiers, firemen, jailguards, barangay authorities, local government units and other agencies and the ‘force multipliers’ who ensured there will be peace and order during the long weekend.