ZAMBOANGA CITY (MindaNews / 20 December) — Carrying at least 58 tons (58,000 kilograms) of relief goods, medicines and hygiene kits, among others, BRP Ivatan left the Naval Station Romulo Espaldon here Monday dawn for Siargao Island to help the victims of devastating typhoon “Odette” there, officials said.
The vessel is one of the 19 ships of the Philippine Navy on a mission to deliver relief goods to families and individuals who were badly hit by Odette (international name: Rai).
“This is part of the 19-ship humanitarian aid-focused flotilla bound to areas that were heavily devastated by super typhoon Odette,” Naval Forces Western Mindanao (NFWM) commander Rear Admiral Toribio Adaci said.
He said that the cargo loading was completed at 10 p.m. Sunday, and that the ship was bound for Dapa in Siargao Island in Surigao del Norte.
Odette, which made its first landfall in the Philippines on Siargao Island at 1:30 p.m. on Thursday, December 16 , “totally devastated” the area, Surigao del Norte Governor Francisco Matugas said earlier.
Lt. Senior Grade Chester Ross Cabaltera, NFWM public affairs officer, said that 7,000 boxes of assorted food packs from the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) were loaded aboard BRP Ivatan starting Sunday afternoon.
Each box contains six kilos of rice, four tin cans of tuna, four tin cans of corned beef, two tin cans of sardines, five sachets of coffee and five sachets of cereal, he said.
“At a speed of eight knots, travel time is approximately 42 hours,” Adaci said, estimating BRP Ivatan to arrive in Siargao shortly before midnight Tuesday, December 21.
Lawyer Sittie Raifah Pamaloy-Hassan, DSWD – Region 9 director, thanked the Philippine Navy for transporting the relief goods as part of its humanitarian mission.
Adaci said BRP Ivatan transported 58 tons of cargoes to include 2,325 mosquito nets, 135 blankets, 309 bedsheets, 1,490 small bath towels and 941 medium bath towels, in addition to the 7,000 food packs from the DSWD.
Cabaltera said that the Department of Health – Region 9 sent off as well 2,160 bottles of Paracetamol 250 mg 5 ml syrup, 144 bottles of Cetirizine syrup, 80 bottles of Zinc syrup, 144 bottles of Co-amoxiclav 450 mg suspension, 10,000 face masks contained in 50 boxes, five sets of family tents, and 200 hygiene kits each containing a pail with cover that can carry 12 liters, a plastic dipper plastic with handle, a detergent bar, two bars of bath soaps, a tube of toothpaste, hand towel, sanitary napkin, a 500 ml bottle of alcohol, and cotton.
The relief flotilla headed for Surigao, Dinagat and Siargao Islands includes BRP Ivatan (LC298), BRP Tarlac (LD601), BRP Bacolod City (LS550), BRP Antonio Luna (FF151), BRP Andres Bonifacio (PS17), BRP Iwak (LC289) and BRP Agra (LC290).
The Philippine Navy under Rear Admiral Alberto Carlos earlier sent to Cebu BRP Tausug (LC295), BRP Enrique Jurado (PC371), BRP Abraham Campo (PC396) and ACS700 to help the typhoon victims there.
The Navy said that in Northern Mindanao, relief sorties have already started as relief goods have been delivered by BRP Gregorio Velasquez (AGR702), BRP Hilario Ruiz (PC378) and BRP Rafael Pargas (PC379).
Prepositioned in Palawan are BRP Mangyan (AC71), BRP Jose Andrade (PC370), BRP Carlos Albert (PC375) and BRP Dioscoro Papa (PC381).
All in all, the Navy said the humanitarian flotilla covers “seven sealift vessels for transport of relief goods and locally stranded individuals, two patrol ships for command and control, eight other watercraft as general support vessels,” while the presidential yacht BRP Ang Pangulo (ACS25) has been repurposed as a hospital ship. (Frencie Carreon / MindaNews)