BAGUIO, Philippines – The last time the 200-member retrieval team found someone in Banawel, Natonin, Mountain Province, was Monday, November 5. They found a body of a man, which remained unidentified.
The next 3 days became a frustrating dig-and-search among the crevices of the unfinished Department of Public Works and Highways building, which was buried by a landslide last October 30 caused by the heavy rains of Typhoon Rosita. These, despite the clearance of the road which brought in more heavy equipment to extricate the debris and the arrival of a K9 team to sniff out the bodies.
Late afternoon Thursday, in a post-assessment meeting presided by Commander LTC Narciso Nabulneg, Office of Civil Defense Cordillera Director Ruben Carandang, and 503rd BDE Commander Brigadier General Leopoldo Imbang, they decided to terminate the search and retrieval at 6 pm Thursday.
They will meet with the Natonin local government, headed by Mayor Mateo Chiyawan, and the relatives of the casualties. The village will then hold the indigenous mourning ritual called ngilin, where all community members will refrain from leaving their houses and community and will indulge in fasting and minimizing movements.
Of the 28 casualties among those who sought shelter in the 3 DPWH buildings, 17 were retrieved but three were unidentified.
Those identified were Jose Arevalo, Gregorio Castro, Juanito Longan, Virginia Malucay, Coyugan Catet, John Tenmatcheg, Jerry Epan, Raymundo Ngilin, Benito Longan, Junjun Laron, Elberto Betco Cano, Reynato Ayom, Gary Hecwayan and Rogelio Alubong.
The 3 unidentified were brought to a funeral parlor in Alfonso Lista, Ifugao.
Those who remain missing – and among them could be the 3 unidentified – are Esther Galong, Randy Sayod, Inocencio Golingoy, Eddie Galahya, Reggie Tayag, Jonathan Ngilin, Obaldo Guihawan, Linson Pallichang, Jovel Bucan, Leobel Orchihon, Jonathan Gano, Rolando Cristobal, Jerry Arenas, and Noel Alvester.
The casualties were either those from the neighborhood or workers from the two construction firms erecting the buildings. Two were security officers of DPWH.
Two other Natonin residents – said to be on their way to help in the rescue – were drowned. They are Mike Saleo-an and Jeffrey Naga-oa. – Rappler.com