(UPDATE) 2 soldiers, 4 CAFGUs die in Laguna rescue operations
1 CAFGU member still missing
CAMP VICENTE LIM, LAGUNA – 2 Army soldiers and 4 members of the Civilian Auxiliary Forces Geographical Units (CAFGU) died after they were swept away by flash floods during rescue operations in Laguna while a militiaman is still missing.
File photo of Pfc Venancio Ancheta who died in rescue operation in Laguna during Tropical Storm 'Ondoy' (Sarita Kare, ABS-CBN Batangas)
The fatalities were identified as Private First Class Venancio Ancheta and Corporal Adriano Regua. The two members of the 16th Infantry Battalion’s Alpha Company were involved in separate rescue operations in Famy and Mabitac towns, respectively.
The 4 Civilian Active Auxiliaries were also identified as Joel Hernalin, Ireneo Olaguer, Florencio Dequinio and Pedro Monte Falcon, according to Philippine Army’s 202nd Infantry Brigade commander, Col. Aurelio Baladad.
A CAFGU member, Artenio Descotido, is reported missing.
“They gave their lives so that others may live. Mahirap mamatayan ng tao. The hardest job I do is to go to funerals and face the families ng tao ko. I just hope that their families will be proud of what they did for others,” lamented Baladad.
Baladad said the military’s rescue operations are ongoing. Although they are now shifting from rescue to relief operations.
“Despite this setback, I feel comfort that we saved and rescued 2,674 and evacuated 353 families," he said.
Acts of heroism
Ancheta, a member of Army's Alpha Company of the 16th Infantry Battalion, was carrying a man on his back across a rushing floodwater when a log struck him. He was able to bring to safe ground the unnamed man he was assisting, but he was later swept away by the raging waters.
Flooding in Famy town in Laguna (Sarita Kare, ABS-CBN Batangas)
Ancheta’s group was able to save about 20 citizens of Famy town. Inspite of his death, his colleagues continued rescue operations and saved up to 600 more. Ancheta’s remains were recovered at 6 a.m. on Sunday.
Famy Vice Mayor Melvin Laminero said he could attest to the heroic act of Ancheta saying that the soldier chose to prioritize the lives of others before saving himself.
He assured that the late soldier’s family will be given financial assistance.
On the other hand, Regua of Echo Company of 59th Infantry Battalion and nine other CAFGUs organized a rescue mission upon hearing reports of flash floods in Mabitac town. But the water level rose unexpectedly high and all ten were swept away by raging current.
Only four were rescued. The bodies of Regua, Hernalin, Olaguer, Dequiño, and Falcon were recovered at 9 a.m. on Sunday along the Manila East Road at Sitio Johnson in Barangay Nanguma in neighboring Mabitac town. --with reports from Arnell Ozaeta, ABS-CBN News Southern Tagalog and Sarita Kare, ABS-CBN Batangas