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15 stranded quake victims airlifted to safety: Air Force

The Tactical Operation Wing-Eastern Mindanao yesterday airlifted 15 people who were stranded without food and water for several days in Makilala, North Cotabato.

Speaking in yesterday’s AFP-PNP press briefing held at The Royal Mandaya Hotel, Col. Sharon Gernale, the acting wing commander of TOW-EastMinCom, could not give any details on the rescue as they still did not receive the full report.

“I would like also to thank the Bureau of Fire and Protection since they are the one who assisted the air crew on the landing spot where they used saws to cut trees so the helicopters could land, ” Gernale said.

The Philippine Air Force also inspected the runaway in Mlang, North Cotabato to determine if it is safe for a C-130 to land in. It would be easier to deliver the relief goods from the airport in the town instead of in Davao City.

Also, Gernale, said their helicopters flew over the quake-affected areas to airlift the stranded victims in the area.

“If there is a need for air evacuation, our pilots and air crew will fly, but the only thing that hinders our air evacuation mission is the weather,” she added.

She also said they are not making any distinction on whether or not the victims are members of the New People’s Army or rebel sympathizers. As long as they need help, “we are ready.”

Maj. Jason Baria, the spokesperson of Police Regional Office XI, said relief goods should be directed to the incident command post so they would be properly distributed by the Disaster Risk and Reduction Management Council and Department of Social Welfare and Development.

Lt. Angela Tobias, the spokesperson of Philippine Coast Guard Task Force Tabang Mindanao,also echoed the same sentiment. Coordinating the distribution will make sure every victim will get the equitable share in assistance.

“On our part, all our movements are being reported to the incident command post of the localities,” Tobias said.

Meanwhile, Baria said the PNP personnel from the Regional Mobile Force Battalion is on standby in case there is a need for deployment in North Cotabato.

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