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Philippine military goes on national 'red alert'

All personnel and resources fully focused on relief effort

Philippine military goes on national 'red alert'

Troops patrol the streets of Tacloban City (picture: Joe Torres) reporter, Manila

November 19, 2013

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The Armed Forces today declared a nationwide red alert as part of its humanitarian assistance and disaster response in areas devastated by super typhoon Haiyan.

Major General Domingo Tutaan, Armed Forces of the Philippines spokesman, told reporters in Manila that the military deemed it necessary to impose its highest state of alert to ensure that all troops are prepared for disaster operations.

Asked why the military declaration was made only on Monday, Lt. Col. Ramon Zagala, the military's public affairs chief, said the declaration was to ensure the military’s continuing support for the ongoing relief and rehabilitation efforts.

"The leadership decided that to ensure the presence [of troops]... it's necessary that we are on alert," Zagala said.

Thousands of government troops and land, sea and air assets are involved in ongoing relief and rehabilitation operations in Tacloban City and other areas devastated by the super typhoon.

Zagala denied that the declaration was a response to reports of destabilization efforts by some quarters against the administration of President Benigno Aquino.

"There is no report on that. We just want to institutionalize all our efforts and coordinate our efforts to ensure they are organized," said Tutaan.

Senior Superintendent Pabilto Cordeta, commander of "Task Force Cadaver," said his team has already recovered a total of 905 cadavers in Tacloban City alone. He said the bodies were recovered both on land and at sea by various agencies that are part of the task force. 

Col. Edgardo de Leon, operations officer of the military's Eastern Mindanao Command, said 20 officers and 228 enlisted men arrived the city of Baybay in Leyte province last night. "They are helmet-wearing soldiers, carpentry-skilled and equipped. Their mission is repair and reconstruction," De Leon said.

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