THE Philippine Air Force's Tactical Operations Wing Eastern Mindanao (PAF Toweastmin) said it is ready to respond to any request coming from a local government unit to airlift quake-affected residents in remote areas.
Toweastmin wing commander Colonel Sharon G. Gernale, during the Kapehan sa Dabaw on Monday, November 11, at The Annex of SM City Davao, said they have stand-by air assets at their headquarters ready to be deployed whenever needed. They just have to coordinate with the Eastern Mindanao Command (Eastmincom).
It can be recalled that a rescue operation was conducted by PAF on November 3 using the Huey helicopter belonging to the 505th Search and Rescue Group where they airlifted at least 16 villagers, including an elderly and minors in Makilala. These individuals were trapped and isolated since the strong earthquake last October 29.
"We are collaborating with Eastern Mindanao. We have the SAR (search and rescue) helicopter at tinatawag natin na super Huey, and also the air ambulance galing ng Zamboanga and the Super Huey galing sa Fort Magsaysay sa Nueva Ecija naman," Gernale said.
Some of the challenges they encountered while doing the rescue and relief operations were the weather and the terrain of the affected areas.
"Our challenge, of course, is the weather kahit gustong-gusto po naming ma airlift yong mga kailangan i-airlift but kung ang weather po ang hindi mag sang-ayon sa amin, hindi po natin magagawa 'yong mission na pinapagawa sa atin," she said.
Even the back-up helicopter of the president was lent to the Air Force to help in evacuation as it can airlift three individuals including a patient with a high-risk condition, medical doctor, and a nurse.
Gernale said 53,535 pounds of donations were transported using their transport aircraft the C-130 and C-295 from Manila going to Davao. This includes 153 pieces of Collapsible tent; 14 pieces nutrient cooker; 134 pieces of water container; 84 black water soap; four units of water filtration units; 181 boxes/sacks of assorted relief goods (toys, water, canned goods, rice, noodles, milk); 884 hygiene kita, and 15 sacks of blankets.
They are also evaluating the runway in M'lang, North Cotabato to expedite the delivery of the donations instead of dropping it in Davao City, which is hours away from the affected area.