Natonin, neighboring towns need more aid: Ex-mayor

BAGUIO CITY – Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO) Assistant Secretary Marie Rafael, who served as mayor of Natonin, Mountain Province in 2007-2010, called for more donations to feed and equip the more than 100 rescuers who continue searching for more than 10 people who had gone missing following the massive landslide last Oct. 30. 
“I was approached from the ground asking for help in looking for donors for the logistics of the operatives,” she said in the Ilocano dialect in a telephone interview on November 13.
Rafael said the search and retrieval operations are being handled by the local government, which has been having a difficult time providing for the operatives.
At least 17 people died in the landslide that washed off a building of the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) in Sitio Ha’rang, Barangay Banawel in Natonin. Some of them had supposedly sought refuge in the building at the height of the onslaught of Typhoon Rosita.
Rafael said more food and equipment are needed to keep the operatives going and the residents alive.
She also thanked former Special Assistant to the President (SAP) Christopher “Bong” Go for responding to her hometown’s plea for help, as relief goods from the Malacañang official arrived in Natonin on Monday.
“We thank Sir Bong for his immediate response to the call for help. What he sent will be useful in supporting the food needs, especially of the operatives,” Rafael said.
Nearby towns Barlig and Paracelis also need help.
Rafael said she has yet to receive information from the respective disaster risk reduction and management councils of the two towns on the state of their people.
Both towns were also deluged at the height of “Rosita.”
Rafael said based on information she got from the grassroots level, there are still families in need of food in both towns, considering the devastation left by the typhoon.
“The people are coming to me hoping to get immediate help. I am waiting for the official information from the municipalities but in the meantime, I am also appealing to the agencies, the public to help the other affected families in the nearby towns,” she said.
“They are doing their best to live a normal life and a little help will surely go a long way for our people,” she added.
Heavy equipment still needed
“We ask for kind-hearted contractors to please help,” the PCOO official said on Facebook, reacting to a post shared by the Philippine Information Agency – Mountain Province (PIA-MP) Information Center.
“Natonin Incident Commander Police Chief Insp. (PCI) Jackson Damong said they are in need of additional heavy equipment to be used in the search and retrieval operations in Barangay Banawel, Natonin, Mountain Province,” it posted.
“PCI Damong, who took over as the Incident Commander during the weekend, said they are requesting support from the various agencies, private persons, and groups to lend heavy equipment with operators and fuel supply for the easier and faster conduct of the search and retrieval operations in the area,” the post read further.
“At the moment, one backhoe from Aguinaldo, Ifugao is at ground zero helping in the search and retrieval operations,” it added.
On Nov. 9, lawyer Eduard Chumawar, head of the Mountain Province Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council, sent a text message to the PIA-Cordillera, saying, “the regional and other national agencies have already pulled out,” leaving the operation to the municipal and provincial governments.
Chumawar said the operatives are now mainly from the Philippine National Police (PNP) and the Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP) assigned in Natonin and Mountain Province.
Relatives of the casualties and members of the community in Natonin have joined the search. Liza Agoot, PNA / ABN

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