Del­losa mulls train­ing Spe­cial Forces per­son­nel as tech­ni­cal divers

The Philippine Star - - NEWS - By ALEXIS ROMERO With Christina Men­dez With Aurea Calica

Armed Forces chief Gen. Jessie Del­losa has or­dered the Army to study the pos­si­bil­ity of train­ing Spe­cial Forces per­son­nel to be tech­ni­cal divers in the wake of the crash off Mas­bate that claimed the lives of In­te­rior Sec­re­tary Jesse Ro­bredo and two pi­lots.

Capt. Jerry Jau­cian, div­ing team leader of the Spe­cial Forces Reg­i­ment, said the di­rec­tive was aimed at en­hanc­ing the res­cue ca­pa­bil­i­ties of sol­diers.

“( The Army chief and Armed Forces chief) will dis­cuss the pro­posal and will de­ter­mine if it is sus­tain­able,” Jau­cian told The STAR in a phone in­ter­view yes­ter­day.

The mil­i­tary will still thresh out the de­tails of the pro­posal. A team of about four to 12 Army per­son­nel may be ded­i­cated to the en­deavor.

Jau­cian said among the things to be con­sid­ered are the needed equip­ment and the per­son­nel who would un­dergo train­ing.

“If this pushes through, it would in­crease the num­ber of per­son­nel who can con­duct res­cue and re­trieval op­er­a­tions,” he said in Filipino.

Tech­ni­cal divers can dive to depths of more than 150 feet. Un­like other divers who use com­pressed air and can dive up to about 130 feet, a tech­ni­cal diver uses tri-mix com­posed of ni­tro­gen, oxy­gen and he­lium gases.

A tech­ni­cal diver needs equip­ment that would sus­tain him un­der wa­ter.

Jau­cian said the train­ing of Spe­cial Forces troops to be­come tech­ni­cal divers can ben­e­fit the pub­lic as the lessons can be used dur­ing res­cue op­er­a­tions.

The Navy only has seven tech­ni­cal divers. For­eign divers and vol­un­teers from the pri­vate sec­tor aug­mented the Navy divers who searched for the bod­ies of Ro­bredo and pi­lots Jes­sup Bahint­ing and Kshi­tiz Chand in Mas­bate.

Mean­while, Pres­i­dent Aquino has or­dered the de­fense depart­ment to de­ter­mine the res­cue equip­ment needed by the mil­i­tary.

De­fense Sec­re­tary Voltaire Gazmin has been tasked to as­sess the needs of the res­cue and re­trieval teams and to enu­mer­ate what needs to be en­hanced or up­graded.

Pas­sage of bill sought

Sen. Edgardo An­gara called yes­ter­day for the pas­sage of the bill re­vis­ing the Armed Forces Mod­ern­iza­tion Act af­ter lack of enough equip­ment and train­ing was high­lighted dur­ing the search and res­cue op­er­a­tions for Ro­bredo.

An­gara noted the team that first re­sponded to the crash site was not able to continue search op­er­a­tions come evening be­cause they did not have ad­e­quate show­ing that there would be a Fu­ji­whara Ef­fect,” said Quit­long.

As of 11 a.m. yes­ter­day, PA­GASA is­sued a fi­nal bul­letin for Igme. Quit­long said, “There is still that pos­si­bil­ity that it might make a U-turn. As of yes­ter­day, the dis­tance be­tween the two cy­clones was 1,300 kilo­me­ters.”

Once this hap­pens, it would bring rains over the ex­treme por­tions of north­ern Lu­zon. PA­GASA might even raise pub­lic plane, 180 feet on the ocean floor of Mas­bate Bay last Tues­day.

With civil­ian for­eign tech­ni­cal dive ex­perts link­ing up with them, the group was also able to re­trieve the bod­ies of Jes­sup Bahint­ing and Kshi­tiz Chand, the pi­lot and co-pi­lot of the ill­fated light plane.

Mean­while, peo­ple from all walks of life and ages con­tin­ued to pay trib­ute to Ro­bredo, whose re­mains have lain in state at the Kalayaan Hall of Malacañang since Fri­day.

The mourn­ers waited in a long line to view the closed and flag-draped cas­ket and did not leave de­spite a heavy down­pour.

Those from Naga City donned shirts printed with Ro­bredo’s equip­ment for night res­cue.

Also, the Navy he­li­copter en­gaged in the search and re­trieval op­er­a­tions had to make a pre­cau­tion­ary land­ing.

“We have al­ways had great need for equip­ment like air trans­port, radar sur­veil­lance, and sonars,” An­gara said.

“That is why we filed the (bill amend­ing the) AFP Mod­ern­iza­tion Act to mod­ern­ize mil­i­tary in­fra­struc­ture and equip­ment to boost the ca­pa­bil­i­ties of the Armed Forces, es­pe­cially in times of emer­gency and cri­sis,” he said.

Se­nate Pres­i­dent Juan Ponce En­rile, Sen­a­tors Vi­cente Sotto III and Gre­go­rio Honasan are push­ing for the gov­ern­ment to get a new fleet of air as­sets storm warn­ing sig­nals in some parts of the coun­try.

In an ex­treme case, Igme might make land fall some­where in north­ern Lu­zon.

Ju­lian, mean­while, will be out of the Philip­pine area of re­spon­si­bil­ity and head to­ward the south­ern part of Ja­pan by this morn­ing.

The eye of Ju­lian was lo­cated at 900 kilo­me­ters east-north­east of Basco, Batanes at 5 p.m. yes­ter­day, photo.

Ro­bredo’s widow Leni and other mem­bers of the fam­ily at­tended to the sym­pa­thiz­ers.

For­mer Pres­i­dent Fidel Ramos, diplo­mats, law­mak­ers, lo­cal of­fi­cials, busi­ness­men, students and var­i­ous groups also came to pay their last re­spects.

Mem­bers of the Philip­pine Coast Guard, Philip­pine Na­tional Po­lice, the Philip­pine Navy and the In­ter­na­tional Po­lice like­wise paid their trib­ute.

Some vil­lage vol­un­teers wore “Paalam (Good­bye) Jesse” arm­bands while ac­tress and so­cio-civic leader Rosa Rosal donned a white blouse with the Red Cross seal when they vis­ited.

Mem­bers of the Philip­pine for the Pres­i­dent and Cab­i­net of­fi­cials.

Once passed, An­gara said the mea­sure will en­sure larger ap­pro­pri­a­tion for the AFP Mod­ern­iza­tion Trust Fund.

“This means that more funds can be used to pur­chase more qual­ity equip­ment, es­pe­cially for emer­gency re­sponse,” An­gara said.

An­gara noted that Pres­i­dent Aquino had men­tioned in his third State of the Na­tion Ad­dress (SONA) the need to boost the equip­ment of the mil­i­tary.

“If the Re­vised AFP Mod­ern­iza­tion Act will be en­acted, as much as P77 bil­lion will be al­lo­cated for mod­ern­iza­tion over the next five years,” he said. – pack­ing max­i­mum sus­tained winds of 175 kilo­me­ters per hour (kph) near the cen­ter and gusti­ness of up to 210 kph. It is expected to move in a north­west di­rec­tion at 15 kph.

North­ern and cen­tral Lu­zon, and the western sec­tion of south­ern Lu­zon, western Visayas and Min­danao would ex­pe­ri­ence mostly cloudy skies with scat­tered rain­show­ers and thun­der­storms. Coali­tion on the United Nations Con­ven­tion on the Rights of Per­sons with Dis­abil­i­ties also came.

Bishop An­to­nio To­bias of No­valiches of­fered con­do­lences and blessed Ro­bredo.

Mem­bers of the Cab­i­net also took part by stand­ing vigil at the funeral. They were set to give their memo­rial ser­vice last night af­ter the Lib­eral Party.

Newly in­stalled Chief Jus­tice Maria Lour­des Sereno also took time to pay her last re­spects to Ro­bredo af­ter her oath tak­ing at the Palace.

Yes­ter­day was the last day of pub­lic view­ing for Ro­bredo’s re­mains, which will be taken back to Naga City to­day be­fore his burial on Tues­day.

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