Military plane from Cebu arrives to help in firefighting effort in Mt. Apo

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/29 March) — A Bell UH-1Y Venon, or Super Huey, military aircraft from Tactical Operations Group Central Command arrived in Davao City from Mactan, Cebu on Monday afternoon to do an aerial reconnaissance over Mt. Apo.

In a phone interview, Capt. Roda Leoncito, acting chief of Eastern Mindanao Command’s Public Information Office, told MindaNews that the aircraft landed at around 2:40 p.m. at TOG 11 headquarters at the old Davao Airport in Sasa.

The aircraft might assist in suppressing the fire by using a helicopter bucket to pour water, she said.

It fetched officials from the Department of Environment and Natural Resources- 11 before heading to Mt. Apo for a reconnaissance flight.

Roda said the plane returned to TOG 11 headquarters at 4:52 p.m.

She said that they requested for additional plane from Cebu upon request of the Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council of North Cotabato.

“We have a Super Huey plane, but it is currently at the hangar for maintenance,” she said.

A Cessna plane from Aero Scout Company of the Light Armor Division of the Philippine Army carried the PDRRMC officials who conducted a rapid damage need assessment at 10 a.m. on Monday.

“Accordingly, initially large portion of the fire is within the side of North Cotabato,” EastMincom’s statement said.

It cited the PDRRMC-North Cotabato as saying that a fireline has been established “as means of controlling the fire. As of same time, large portion of fire is now within the side of Talomo Mt. Range and Davao Sur area.”

MindaNews tried to contact Harry Chester Camoro, of PDRRMC-Davao del Sur but he was still in a meeting with PDRRMC-North Cotabato and Davao del Sur in Lake Agco in Ilomavis, Kidapawan City.

In a text message, Edgardo Elera, head of the Digos City Tourism Office said they have surveyed the affected area but they have yet to determine the extent of the damage.

“May aerial survey na, ipa-plot pa sa map to determine the area na nasunog,” he said.

The fire started at around 1 p.m. on Black Saturday. By Sunday evening, it had reached the Century Tree Trail that leads to Talomo-Sibulam-Kapatagan in Davao del Sur.

“As of now, ang Digos area walang fire na naka-pasok, but aming volunteers naka-ready lahat, ang fire nasa Venado (Lake) going to Sta. Cruz area,” Elera said. (Antonio L. Colina IV/MindaNews)