MANILA - Help is on the way for victims of heavy flooding in Cagayan Valley and the Cordillera Administrative Region, authorities said as desperate calls for help in the flood-ravaged areas continued.
Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said they have been continuing rescue operations in the affected areas and working "round the clock" to rescue individuals in different barangays and muunicipalities in Cagayan and Isabela.
"As early as dawn yesterday, the Department of Transportation through the Philippine Coast Guard, has been working round-the-clock with the rescue of 15 individuals in Modelro, Sitio Pantalan, and Pantabangan in Tumauini, Isabela; 50 individuals in Barangay 12, Tugueguerao City, 47 individuals in Pengue Ruyu, Tugueguerao City, 13 individuals in Caritan Norte, Diversion Road, and Anufuan West, Tugueguerao City; and 70 individuals in Linao East, Tugueguerao City," Roque said in a statement issued Saturday, adding that convoys are on the way to assist stranded individuals.
He said the President is "on top of the situation." Cagayan has been placed under a statement of calamity and has recorded 9 deaths.
As early as 3:30 a.m. Saturday, air, water and land transportation units were also sent to augment operations in the affected areas, Roque added.
Convoys containing drums of fuel for helicopters and other vehicles are also on their way for rescue operations.
Two trucks are bringing fuel supplies for two helicopters of the Philippine Coast Guard for use in aerial rescue. The two Coast Guard Aviation Force helicopters are en route to Cagayan and Isabela, Roque said.
A PCG islander plane is, meanwhile, already in the area, while rubber boats from the coast guard station in Ilocos Norte are on the way to Tuguegarao City.
The Department of Social Welfare and Development is also providing relief assistance for the affected residents, Roque said.
In a public press briefing Saturday, Roque said President Rodrigo Duterte is "on top of the situation" even while he is attending the ASEAN virtual summit.
"The president is on top of the situation, he is in constant communication with [Defense] Secretary Delfin Lorenzana and Usec Jalad (Undersecretary Ricardo Jalad) of NDRRMC at may koordinasyon din pagdating sa DSWD (and there's coordination with the DSWD)," he said.
Roque also called for unity amid the flooding.
"Indeed, this is a challenging time for every Filipino. Together, we ask everyone to unite, help one another, and show kindness to our fellowmen," he said.
Social media on Friday night filled with appeals to the national government to help Cagayan province and the whole Cagayan Valley, which experienced heavy flooding in the wake of Typhoon Ulysses.
Because of the typhoon and monsoon rains, Magat Dam in the region had to release excess water after it reached critical level, which Cagayan Gov. Manuel Mamba said "exacerbated" flooding in the province.
In a separate statement, the Armed Forces of the Philippines said its forces have been on "search, rescue, and retrieval mode" as it sought to provide immediate relief to residents in the affected areas.
The military forces have been "spread out" into different affected areas, AFP's Public Affairs Office chief Capt. Jonathan Zara said in a statement.
Water search and rescue teams have been deployed to the Cordilleras and Cagayan Valley, equipped with five helicopters and rubber boats. A total of 91 search, rescue and retrieval units from the Northern Luzon Command have been deployed in 12 provinces and 31 towns, the military said.
The AFP has also been cooperating with fire and police authorities to bring aid "as quickly as possible."
Zara also reiterated that help "is on the way" and assured assistance.