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PNP-SAF commandos join search for missing Cessna amid NPA threat
AMID threats posed by New People’s Army guerrillas in the jungles covering the municipalities of Divilacan and Maconacon in Isabela province, commandos from the elite Philippine National Police Special Action Force have swung into action to help in ongoing search for a missing Cessna 206 airplane with six people on board, the Journal Group learned on Monday.
On Sunday, 42 SAF troopers , 24 of them from the 151st Special Action Company and 18 others from the SAF Rapid Deployment Battalion left the SAF headquarters in Camp Bagong Diwa in Bicutan, Taguig City to Ilagan City in Isabela to join the conduct of search ,rescue and recovery operations in the province.
The PNP-SAF troopers are not taking any chances since the place is known for having a considerable large presence of NPA rebels and has been the scene of major gunbattles between government troops and the rebels since the 70s and 80s.
Latest report showed that the missing plane is believed to have crashed n the vicinity of Barangay Sapinit in Divilacan, Isabela although the information is still being subjected to a validation.
Around 12 noon Monday, the SAF commandos arrived at the SAF headquarters in Camp Samal in Bgy. Arcon, Tumauini municipality where they were placed on standby pending their actual insertion in the purported crash site.
“We have prepared our troops for insertion and deployment,” said PNP-SAF director, Major General Edgar Alan O. Okubo.
As planned and if weather permits, the SAF commandos will be inserted in the area from the Maconacon Airport in Isabela by a PNP chopper. PNP chief, General Rodolfo S. Azurin Jr. has instructed the PNP-SAF to join government efforts to find the plane which has been missing for already a week now.
One problem facing the search team is that it will take 6-7 days to reach the suspected crash site by foot since the last passable road for transport vehicles is in San Mariano municipality. A sea travel on the other hand will take at least half-a =day.
Thus, the PNP-SAF requested for a police chopper to move forward to Isabela to bring the much-needed supplies and other provisions including batteries, dry rations and fuels as well as the equipment needed by the SAF commandos as they search the thick forest in the area.
The Philippine Army has also dispatched three search-and-rescue teams from the 95th Infantry Battalion and 5th Infantry Division to help in the ongoing search-and-rescue mission.
Specific areas set for combing by the police and the military and a team from the Cagayan Valley Regional Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council are Barangays Sapiniit and Dicaruyan in Divilacan municipality.
The plate went missing after leaving Cauayan Airport in Isabela in thE afternoon of January 23.