By Priam F. Nepomuceno
MANILA, July 22 (PNA) — In line with efforts to beef up its disaster response capabilities, most especially for a magnitude-7 earthquake emanating from the West Valley Fault, the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) announced that it will be conducting a three-day humanitarian assistance and disaster response exercise (HADRX) from July 22 to 24.
Lt. Col. Noel Detoyato, military public affairs office chief, said 100 participants composed of personnel from the AFP Battle Staff, HADR Crisis Action Team, Unified Commands, Major Services, and AFP-Wide Service Support Units, Subject Matter Experts (SMEs), panelists, facilitators and support staff, will attend the three-day event.
He added that the AFP is also in close coordination with the National Capital Region Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council and the Metro Manila Development Authority in its HADR skills and capabilities development and tests in order to ensure that its responders will be very effective in handling situations related to natural calamities.
Detoyato said the three-day HADRX focuses on Joint Operations Planning and Simulated Execution of the Search, Rescue and Retrieval (SRR) Operations of the AFP.
It is in accordance with AFP’s Contingency Plan “Pagyanig” which has been formulated in anticipation of the threat of a magnitude-7 earthquake which experts say might originate from the West Valley Fault.
The exercise is designed to test the capabilities of the following: AFP Battle Staff in managing the operations, including the running of Multi-National and Coordinating Council (MNCC) and Civil Military Coordination Center (CMCC); Northern Luzon Command (Nolcom) and Southern Luzon Command (Solcom) in providing command and control among troops deployed in respective sectors; Communications, Electronics, and Information Systems Service AFP (CEISSAFP) in providing communications during a 7.2-magnitude earthquake scenario; Major Services in providing forces for Search, Rescue and Retrieval (SRR) as well as engineer units in support to HADR operations; Unified Commands and Joint Task Force in providing follow-on forces.
It is also meant to test the AFP Incident Command System.
The HADRX is composed of Table Top Exercises (TTX) involving tasked units and the Battle Staff “Bravo”; a Command Post Exercise (CPX) involving the four separate sector responders; and a Communication Exercise (COMMEX) involving the CEISSAFP.
Prior to this, the Joint Task Force-National Capital Region (JTF-NCR) had its Earthquake and Landslide Search and Rescue Orientation Course (ELSAROC) in June to ensure that it would be able to respond to communities which might be affected by an earthquake.
In order to prepare for flood incidents and other calamities, AFP officers and enlisted personnel underwent Flood Incident and Response Training (FIRST), Emergency Response Training (ERT) and Incident Command System (ICS) Training in May.
The JTF-NCR also has an existing HADR Plan “Sagip Tulong 2,” an Implementing Plan to GHQ, AFP Operational Plan “Tulong-Bayanihan” alongside Contingency Plan “Pagyanig.”
The HADRX is expected to help the AFP in refining the implementing plan of tasked units which will be the basis for the conduct of a Mobilization Exercise (Mobex) scheduled on July 28.
The Mobex will involve units from Nolcom and Solcom. (PNA)