PERSONNEL of Joint Task Force COVID Shield and the Philippine National Police yesterday moved to forcibly evacuate people in danger zones who have opted to stay in their homes despite warnings of heavy rains and winds and other devastating effect of super typhoon ‘Rolly” amid the pandemic, Lieutenant General Guillermo Lorenzo T. Eleazar said.
Eleazar added that in coordination with PNP chief, General Camilo Pancratius P. Cascolan, he has ordered all police commanders to coordinate with the Local Government Unit’s (LGU) Disaster Risk Reduction Management Office (DRRMO) to ensure the safety of residents inside evacuation centers both from the impact of typhoon ‘Rolly’ and from the possible infection from the coronavirus.
He said local police forces should not only assist in the mandatory evacuation being implemented by the LGUs but should also be involved in coming up with measures to protect the evacuees, especially children, senior citizens and persons with existing health conditions which are considered as prone to virus infection.
Part of the instruction, according to the official, is the regular coordination between the local PNP and the local health office to come up with measures that would also protect evacuees from coronavirus infection.
“Local commanders should ensure the presence of police personnel to ensure the protection of our kababayan in the evacuation centers. We leave the decision to our PNP units on the ground based on their coordination with their LGUs on how to properly and effectively implement these measures,” he said.
More or less a million residents were reportedly evacuated in Bicol region where the strong weather disturbance made a landfall. Mandatory evacuation are also being implemented in other areas along the path of ‘Rolly’ that include Southern Tagalog areas, Metro Manila and Central Luzon.
The government earlier tasked LGUs to prepare for worse case scenarios since weather experts noted that ‘Rolly’ is packing strong winds under the category of extremely catastrophic (Category 5) tropical cyclone.
Cascolan ordered the deployment of more policemen and police vehicles in the affected areas to assist in the forced evacuation and other disaster preparedness activities of the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management and the LGUs.
“The presence of our personnel in evacuation centers is necessary at this point since this would have positive impact on the perception of safety and security of our affected kababayan in this yet another challenge. The mere presence of our police and other personnel of other agencies serves as an assurance to our kababayan that the government is always there to protect them,” said Eleazar.
He said the deployment of policemen in evacuation centers could either be through setting up of assistance desks along with other government agencies or regular visits to check on their needs.
The official added that police commanders were also instructed to communicate with the National Headquarters all the forms of assistance that the evacuees need which the PNP could provide or extend assistance to.
The PNP chief has activated the National Headquarters Disaster Incident Management Task Group which focuses on plan of action of the PNP on disaster preparedness and response management in support to other concerned agencies.
The DIMTG supports the government’s disaster risk reduction and management efforts in accordance with the PNP Critical Incident Management Operational Procedures.