Philippine government called on to buy modern rescue gear

Defence Secretary Voltaire Gazmin on Wednesday said he would push for the modernization of the government's search and rescue equipment in the wake of the August 18 plane crash that killed Interior Secretary Jesse Robredo and two pilots off Masbate province.

Gazmin, chaiman of the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC), said the government needed more technical divers-those who could go under water up to 62 meters (200 feet)-along with sonar equipment and a remotely operated vehicle (ROV) that could plumb the depths of the seas.

Shopping list

"We will show this list to the President and I'll ask for help so that we would have the necessary support to procure these equipment," he said.

Remote vehicle

"We are assessing what other equipment we still need so that, when there's a disaster, we would be ready for any eventuality."

Gazmin said he had talked with American divers who told him that the Philippine government would be able to afford an ROV, which is used for search and retrieval operations in depths that technical divers cannot reach.

Shortcomings

"They said it's not very expensive so we can afford to buy (an ROV) and also have the training so that our divers can use it when it's needed," he said.

"We saw the deficiencies during the search and rescue operations for Secretary Robredo when we were looking for equipment."

Gazmin said the Philippine Navy and the Philippine Coast Guard would be the primary beneficiaries of the equipment upgrade. "They are the ones involved when it comes to search and rescues in the sea," he said.

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