2 Army task groups from Mindanao off to Visayas for relief, rehab work

CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY (MindaNews / 16 November) — Two Army task groups — veterans in disaster relief and rehabilitation work during typhoons Sendong and Pablo — are linking up in Lipata port in Surigao City Saturday night to proceed to the devastated province of Leyte.

The two task groups, composed of engineers, doctors and engineers, will take the ferry and move inland to Ormoc, Leyte where they will wait for instructions where they will be eventually be deployed.

“These soldiers are told to expect to stay in Leyte for eight months or more as long as our people need them, “ Brig. Gen. Ricardo Visaya, commanding general of the Army 4th Infantry Division said.

Task Force Diamond of the Army’s 4th Infantry Division is composed of 200 soldiers, engineers and doctors.

1Lt. Mayer Camaganalan of the 4ID 4th Post Engineer Department said their unit is prepared to do disaster relief work since it helped the people of Cagayan de Oro during typhoon Sendong in 2011; and Davao Oriental and Compostela province during typhoon Pablo in 2012.

“Our families know where we are going and they understand that we are needed in Leyte. Many of the wives of the soldiers are even urging their husbands to do their best to help the typhoon victims, “ Camaganalan said.

He said soldiers are well-equipped aside from the gun they would bring along for their protection.

Camaganalan said the task group is equipped with shovels, axes, medicine kits, power saws, generators, medical stretchers , nails and hammers.

He said they are provisioned to stay for eight months in Leyte or anywhere the Armed Forces of the Philippines will order them to go.

During the send-off ceremony in Camp Evangelista Friday afternoon, Visaya told the soldiers to have “a big heart” and understand how the tragedy affected the residents of Leyte.

“Those who looted for food did it because their families are hungry. How can we tell these hungry people not to steal on empty stomachs,” Visaya said.

Visaya urged the soldiers to be compassionate to the typhoon victims and cautioned them to be careful in handling the relief supply lines. (Froilan Gallardo / MindaNews)