BGEN IGANCIO A OBLIGACION, AFP, 9ID Assistant Division, helps a member of the CAA Carpentry Squad of 9ID gear up for his unit’s duties in the future as they were sent off in a ceremony at 9ID Parade Grounds on January 11, 2016.
Humanitarian assistance and disaster response (HADR) is meant to be a big deal of a phrase with a vast scope. From preparing for known calamities to executing contingency plans to performing search, rescue and relief, it is meant to cover all stages related to any calamity and its effects on human life and properties.
For the past decades, countries, including the Philippines, have been perfecting its system in dealing with calamities as the effects of climate change intensify with each passing year. It became apparent that rebuilding homes is also a necessary aspect of HADR that has to be further enhanced in order for the preservation of communities.
Bicol Region, due to its location, is oftentimes visited by typhoons and challenged with various calamities. Its volatile soil also gave birth to active volcanoes Mt. Bulusan and Mt. Mayon. These factors put together makes living in Bicol both a blessing and a test to residents.
Keeping this as a top priority, the command created the CAFGU Active Auxiliary Carpentry Squads. This team was tasked with the duty of clearing the way for HADR units and rebuilding homes and lives after the storm.
Our CAFGU Active Auxiliary are regarded as force multipliers of the Philippine Army. They are called “part time soldiers” due to the fact that they only report for duty 15 days every month. They spend the rest of the month working and living as civilians.
But in 9th Infantry (SPEAR) Division, they are more than just these.
The 22nd Infantry Battalion, 9ID, under the leadership of Col Andrew D Costelo, INF (GSC) PA, created four CAA Carpentry Squads. It started as a response team to rehabilitate facilities damaged by calamities.
The same with the basic infantry squad, it is composed of members specializing in various fields such as masonry, carpentry, plumbing and electrical wiring. Each squad is also headed by one regular Spear Trooper as squad leader.
Their roles include maintenance of camp facilities to provide a comfortable working/resting environment for the Spear Troopers, quick restoration of camp facilities damaged by calamities and deployment for clearing operations and rehabilitation activities during and after calamities. Their presence during clearing operations and rehabilitation further boosts the disaster response and rescue operations of the maneuver units, allowing them to focus more on search, rescue and relief operations.
Aside from these, they are also utilized in building school buildings and other government infrastructures and facilities in hinterlands and towns in Bicol.
The first of its kind in Bicol, 9ID leadership has intended to make its CAA Carpentry Squads as models or inspiration for other Army commands to duplicate.
Last January 11, 2016, CAA Carpentry Squad was officially recognized and inaugurated as part of a working team in line to 22nd Infantry Valor Battalion’s mission and goals. They were deployed to various assignments with send-off ceremony in 9ID Headquarters Camp Elias Angeles, Pili, Camarines Sur.
The three Carpentry Squads were deployed in the area of 901st Brigade covering Albay, Cantanduanes and Camarines Sur; 902nd Brigade covering Camarines Norte and Camarines Sur; and to 903rd Brigade covering Sorsogon and Masbate. Two squads remained at Headquarters, 9ID and 22nd Infantry VALOR Battalion.
This brings them closer to the communities and units which need them. It ensures that their services are immediately given and their purpose is properly achieved. With their capabilities in clearing operations which allows for quicker response, it also ensures that more lives will be saved in event of future calamities – making the Zero Casualty goal a common occurrence in Bicol Region.