The Armed Forces of the Philippines reactivated Joint Task Group Taal (JTG Taal) with a series of activities to ensure readiness and preparedness of its troops for prompt and sustained disaster response operations (DRO) and to assist local government units (LGUs) in Batangas that will be directly impacted by the possible eruption of Taal Volcano.
The JTG is comprised of Disaster Response Teams (DRTs) from the Philippine Army, Philippine Air Force, and Philippine Coast Guard, and is supervised by the Office of Civil Defense, Region 4A.
JTG Taal is currently led by Brigadier General Rommel K. Tello PA, Assistant Division Commander of the 2nd Infantry Division.
“We have to maximize use of the available time to prepare ourselves, for the worst is yet to come, in order to achieve the objective of the people and government that is, everyone’s safety,” Tello said.
The JTG Taal has established a Joint Operations Center (JOC) at Fernando Airbase in Lipa City as part of its preparations to direct, monitor, and supervise the deployment of AFP personnel for disaster response.
Reserve forces and other capabilities are also stationed in the JOC and other staging areas to support the AFP JTG Taal’s Search, Rescue, and Retrieval operations.
On July 5, Tello inspected the Quick Reaction Team (QRT) of the 2nd Civil-Military Operations Battalion (2CMOBn) and the Disaster Response Unit (DRU) of the 564th Engineering and Construction Battalion (564ECB) at Camp Macario Sakay, Lalakay, Los Banos, Laguna to ensure their readiness for disaster response.
Two wheel loaders, two backhoes, one bulldozer, one prime mover, and one dump truck with operators are all prepped and ready for possible clearing operations. JTG Taal was virtually presented with the rest of the alerted teams.
During the Alert 3 level status of Taal Volcano, a total of 38 DRTs with 43 land assets and 7 sea assets were mobilized and are now on standby. In the towns of Laurel and Talisay, four of the 38 DRTs loaded with 11 land assets have already been deployed.
The remaining 34 DRTs with 32 land assets and 7 water assets from the Army, Air Force, and Coast Guard are on standby at their respective headquarters and staging areas.
Similarly, the Taal Volcano’s periphery was divided into four quadrants, each with a specific Quadrant Commander in charge of deployed troops. The cooperation with the Taal-affected LGUs is the responsibility of these Quadrant Commanders. The municipalities of Talisay, Laurel, and Tanauan City are in the north quarter, while Lemery, San Nicolas, and Agoncillo are in the west quadrant. The municipalities of Malvar, Balete, Mataas na Kahoy, and City of Lipa are located in the East Quadrant, whereas Taal, Sta. Teresita, Alitagtag, and Cuenca are located in the South Quadrant.
Response teams have also provided manpower and transportation assistance to the affected barangays, ranging from the delivery and distribution of DSWD relief goods to the setting up of makeshift tents for the evacuees and the conduct of checkpoints to augment local PNP in maintaining peace and order.
Meanwhile, JTG Taal’s Army component met civilian counterparts and stakeholders in Alitagtag, Sta Teresita, and Taal, Batangas, while its Air Force component conducted security and disaster-related coordination with Talisay, Laurel, Sta Teresita, and Taal police stations.
The JTG Taal also paid a visit to authorities from the local governments of Sta. Teresita and Taal.