From the Philippine Information Agency (Dec 21): 8IB army deploys troops for Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief missions
MALAYBALAY CITY, Bukidnon, December 21—Soldiers of the 8th Infantry Battalion, 4th Infantry Division, Philippine Army were deployed on December 19 in disaster-prone areas in the province of Bukidnon at the height of Tropical Depression "Onyok" (TD Onyok) that brought heavy rains in Bukidnon.
Ltc Lennon G Babilonia, commanding officer of the 8th Infantry Battalion, said the soldiers were set out to assist the local government units (LGUs) in its effort to address disaster-related incidents that may occur due to heavy rains brought “TD Onyok."
“Although, the local weather station said "Onyok" has weakened into Low Pressure Area (LPA) as it enters Philippine area of responsibility, heavy rains are still expected to affect the province, which may cause flooding and occurrence of landslides in disaster prone areas, the whole Saturday. The battalion is coordinating with the Incident Management Teams of the different municipalities and cities in Bukidnon, as well as with the Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council,” he said.
The Philippine Army’s 8th Infantry Battalion has been an active partner in disaster preparedness, disaster mitigation and environmental protection activities in Bukidnon.
It plays a vital role in helping communities during Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief (HADR) missions, being one of the members of the Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council.
The battalion also continuously strengthens its HADR capabilities by equipping the troops with proper gears and regularly training them along with LGU rescue units and different government agencies during all-hazard disaster preparation, planning, response and recovery trainings organized by the Office of Civil Defense.
In his statement, Ltc Babilonia said his troops had been advised since December 18, 2015, to coordinate with the local government units (LGUs) and make necessary preparations for contingencies that TD Onyok may bring.
They also assisted the LGUs in informing residents in low-lying and flood prone areas to move to higher grounds. With this, he lauded the Bukidnon’s because they have been doing this for many times now and the people showed others how to cooperate with the army troops.
He said they want everyone to know that they don't only run after New People’s Army (NPA) rebels. They also help the people in disaster mitigation efforts especially that this is also the people’s security concern.
“With this, I challenge the NPA and their leaders to be very discerning in their decisions. If indeed you are pro-people and pro-poor, you should quit from attacking our troops who are doing Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief missions—just like what you did in Pinabacdao, Samar. Our troops there were ambushed while delivering relief goods to communities. It is a cowardly act made by bandits and outlaws and is so frustrating. The NPA should think deeply on this “Let's all work together instead, and help our people in times of dire need," Ltc. Babilonia said.