MANILA — The Philippine contingent in quake-ravaged Turkey is likely to return home earlier than expected, the Office of Civil Defense (OCD) said on Friday.
The Philippines deployed on Feb. 8 an 82-person response team to help in the search, rescue, and relief efforts after a magnitude 7.8 earthquake struck southern Turkey. They arrived in Istanbul on Feb. 9 and proceeded shortly afterward to their area of assignment.
"Kung talagang wala nang gamit (if there is really no use), we can cut short their stay there. We can pull them out already," OCD spokesperson Assistant Secretary Bernardo Rafaelito Alejandro IV told reporters when sought for updates.
"Second, they can transfer to another site. Pero 'yan naman depends on the local authorities and the situation on the ground. We will assess and talk with them, and hopefully come up with recommendations for them either to stay and finish the 2 weeks or cut short ang kanilang stay doon kasi very minimal na ang activity."
(Second, they can transfer to another site. But that depends on the local authorities and the situation on the ground. We will assess and talk with them, and hopefully come up with recommendations for them either to stay and finish the 2 weeks or cut short their stay there because the activity is very minimal.)
Alejandro said the response team is doing well in its retrieval operations and medical missions.
Since they started their operations in Adiyaman Province on Feb. 10, the urban search and rescue team has swept through 36 buildings destroyed by the quake. They have recovered a total of 4 corpses.
The emergency medical assistance team, meanwhile, has treated 353 patients. The team also ensures the welfare of the Philippine contingent with standby doctors and nurses.
“Sa data ng medical team, padami nang padami ang mga pasyente na tinitignan nila,” Alejandro noted. “So far, puro outpatient itong tinitignan nila. Ang category ng ospital na itinayo doon is just to cater to outpatients. Walang surgery na ginagawa.”
(According to the data of the medical team, they are attending to more and more patients. So far, they are only assisting outpatients. The category of the hospital built there is just to cater to outpatients. No surgery is done.)
On Thursday, Alejandro said there was no need for Filipino responders to extend their 2-week stay in Turkey.
The Turkish government earlier said it would no longer accept a second contingent from the Philippines, explaining that the element of “life-saving time” had lapsed.
But Istanbul is still accepting non-food items for earthquake victims.
Alejandro said the Philippine contingent will be transported by the Turkish government back to Manila at no cost.
"Kami sa headquarters, we’ve been preparing ang kanilang pagbalik, mga logistics. We have to be prepared and one step ahead dapat kami," the official said. "Iko-coordinate pa natin iyan sa Turkish authorities to make sure na mauwi silang lahat na kompleto, pati ‘yung mga gamit."
(We at the headquarters, we've been preparing their return, the logistics. We have to be prepared and be one step ahead. We will coordinate that with the Turkish authorities to make sure that they all return home complete, including their belongings.)
Upon their return to the Philippines, the responders will undergo psychosocial debriefing and counseling.
“We have been talking with DOH. We are preparing for that. Meron tayong psychosocial debriefing. We’re actually scouting for a place na. The program will be run by DOH. Kasama sa package iyan when we sent the contingent sa mga ganitong trabaho,” Alejandro added.
(We have been talking with DOH. We are preparing for that. We have a psychosocial debriefing. We're actually scouting for a place now. The program will be run by DOH. That is included in the package when we sent the contingent to these jobs.)
An after-action review session will also be conducted, according to Alejandro.