Officer dies in Bayawan rescue-A A +A
Tuesday, October 8, 2013
A ROOKIE policeman from the Police Regional Office (PRO) 7 died while saving other people’s lives during a search and rescue operation after floods whipped some parts of Negros Oriental.
A resident found Police Officer 1 Rodelin Gonzaga dead off the coast of Barangay Caranoche, Sta. Catalina town at 7 a.m. yesterday.
He apparently got separated from a lifeline while attempting to rescue some trapped residents in a coastal area in Barangay Villareal, Bayawan City last Sunday.
Supt. Renato Dugan, PRO 7 spokesperson, said Gonzaga was one of the 72 non-commissioned police officers who were pulled out from their anti-insurgency training to help in the rescue operations.
The Negros Oriental Provincial Police Office (NOPPO) had asked for an augmentation force from the regional headquarters.
The police official said Gonzaga, 29, had managed to save several people from being washed away by the floodwaters, when strong waves hit the area.
“Paghapak sa bawod, nadala siya unya wala na kit-i (The waves carried him away),” he told Sun.Star Cebu.
A day later, Gonzaga was found by Randy Salvero, 37, floating in the sea. He was brought to the hospital, but was already unresponsive.
Dugan said the policeman was supposed to graduate from his 45-day Special Counter Operations Unit Training (SCOUT) in Negros Oriental next month.
The course started last Aug. 30 in Camp Carballo in Nagbagang, Sta. Catalina, with 112 trainees.
Gonzaga, who hailed from Minaba, Bayawan City, entered the police service last Jan. 30, 2012.
He trained in the Regional Public Safety Battalion (RPSB) 7 in Sibonga, Cebu before being deployed for the SCOUT course.
During the interview, Dugan revealed Gonzaga was known to be athletic and a good swimmer. He was also a scholar in his school.
The PRO 7 is preparing to give financial assistance and awards to the policeman who died in the line of duty.
“What he did was a heroic act. He did his best to save people who needed help,” Dugan said.
In a related development, the Office of Civil Defense (OCD) 7 reported almost 6,000 people have been affected by the disaster in five localities in Negros Oriental.
In Bayawan City, the water has subsided in some barangays and some evacuees went back to their homes.
However, the city has had no power since Sunday and classes in all levels were suspended. Apart from the city, Sta. Catalina town is also suffering from a power outage.
In Siaton town, there were six barangays affected by landslides. These were Caticugan, Maloh, Cabangahan, Giliga-on, Bonawon and Apoloy.
The landslides damaged interior roads, the OCD 7 reported.
Meanwhile, several families living along the Tyabanan River in Basay town were evacuated to higher ground.
In Dumaguete City, some 1,000 people from nine barangays were transferred to evacuation centers. Some are staying with their friends and relatives.
The OCD 7 reported that a man identified as Richard Tejedor, 40, of Barangay Junob remains missing.
Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on October 08, 2013.