Soldiers will remain on standby in landslide areas in La Libertad and Guihulngan City, Negros Oriental, for any need that may arise, Col. Francisco Patrimonio, 302nd Infantry Brigade commander, said.
This is in spite of the announcement to end search and retrieval operations for missing earthquake victims.
While some soldiers are expected to be pulled out today from Planas in Guihulngan, Army engineers will continue road- clearing operations towards Brgy. Hinakpan, he added.
Malacañang also assured yesterday that the search and retrieval operations for the missing residents will continue.
Deputy Presidential Spokesperson Abigail Valte said a team from the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority will continue the retrieval operations, a report from the Philippine News Agency said.
Officials of Guihulngan City also passed a resolution declaring the landslide area in Sitio Moog in Barangay Planas a memorial site for residents buried there, it added.
Soldiers deployed to Solonggon will also remain on standby, Patrimonio also said.
He added that ending the search and retrieval operations is an emotional issue for the families of missing quake victims.
Benito Ramos, executive officer of the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council, and concurrent administrator of the Office of Civil Defense, admitted that after almost two weeks of searching for more missing persons, “Chances are there are no more survivors”.
NDRRMC said yesterday it recorded seven more quake fatalities, bringing the official death toll to 50. Six of the newly-reported fatalities were from Guihulngan City, and the other from Ayungon town.
Ramos added that 66 persons remain missing, and are believed buried in landslides in Brgy. Planas, Guihulngan City; and Brgy. Solonggon, in La Libertad.
Patrimonio, meanwhile, said the Army has not monitored any rebel activity in the quake-affected areas.
The Army’s internal security operations have been temporarily suspended to focus their efforts on search and retrieval operations.
The 302nd Infantry Brigade and 79th Infantry Battalion also provided transportation and manpower assistance, hauling and distributing high-energy biscuits donated by the United Nations World Food Programme, in coordination with the Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction Management Council, to quake-affected areas.
Capt. Reylan Java, 3rd Infantry Division spokesman, said about 20 metric tons of high-energy biscuits coming from international community donors will immediately be delivered to La Libertad, Ayungon, Tayasan, Jimalalud and Guihulngan City.*GPB
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