Friday, October 02, 2009

Tap military reservists in times of calamities

MANILA, Philippines - Speaker Prospero Nograles urged Defense Secretary Gilbert Teodoro to mobilize the reserve commands of the Armed Forces of the Philippines to assist in providing relief assistance for the victims of Typhoon Ketsana especially those who are yet to be reached by local government and non-government relief workers.

Nograles also urged Teodoro and the Armed Forces of the Philippines leadership to put in place an automatic system of mobilization that would allow the rapid deployment of AFP reservists in times of calamities.

"I suggest to Secretary Teodoro that he should activate the reserve forces of the Army, Navy and Air Force to assist in relief operations. While we cannot pull out troops from their present locations but he can always activate the reserve forces. This will determine how coordinated we are in the reserve forces since our reservists are also a force to reckon with," Nograles said in a statement.

"If the NDCC can quickly deploy reservists in their areas, I think that our response will be faster and we can better avoid massive loss of lives in times of typhoons and other calamities. Our reservists live in communities and are not inside military camps or in some remote military outposts so they can be quickly tapped to respond in times of crisis. All we need is to have a data on their location and the means to communicate with them. They can be formed into teams depending on their location," Nograles said.

Nograles said that the AFP's reserve command was precisely created as a force multiplier I whether it involves armed conflict or in times of natural calamities and therefore, the AFP leadership should be able to rapidly mobilize and deploy them as quick reaction personnel in times of crisis.

At present there are roughly one million reservists who are with the AFP's Army, Navy and Air Force commands.

He added that basic training for reservists includes rescue, paramedic and survival and this gives them the skill in providing assistance to civilians in times of calamities such as Typhoon Ketsana.

"They can be more effective in providing evacuation assistance, set up observation posts, provide search and rescue assistance and help in the relief operations if we can mobilize and deploy them rapidly. They can be of better use as emergency rapid response personnel instead of using them in dental and medical missions and tree planting," Nograles said.

"We should learn from the lessons of Ketsana and all the past natural tragedy that befell our nation. We cannot fight nature and the only way that we can minimize the loss of lives and destruction of properties is to be fully prepared to respond quickly and rapidly as possible and that should be the primary mission of the AFP's Reserve Command," Nograles said. (Gil Bugaoisan)

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