4 Filipino peacekeeping contingent confirmed dead in Haiti

The body of a third member of the 10th Philippine peacekeeping contingent to Haiti has been recovered, bringing to four the confirmed Filipino fatalities from the powerful earthquake that rocked the Caribbean nation last week, the Armed Forces announced Thursday.

The body of Air Force Sgt. Janice Arocena was pulled out from the rubble of the Christopher Hotel in Port-au-Prince, which served as headquarters of the United Nations Stabilization Mission to Haiti (MINUSTAH), at around 1:40 p.m. on Wednesday.

Arocena, who was assigned as clerk at the office of the Chief of Staff, Central Registry of the MINUSTAH, is the fourth confirmed Filipino fatality in the Haiti earthquake. Two other Filipino women remained missing.

Lt. Col. Romeo Brawner, Jr., AFP spokesman, said the recovery of Arocena’s body was relayed by Lt. Col. Lope Dagoy, commander of the 10th Philippine peacekeeping contingent to Haiti.

On Monday, search and rescue workers recovered the body of Jerome Yap, executive assistant to the UN deputy head of mission in Haiti; and on Tuesday, the bodies of peacekeepers Data Processor 3rd Class Pearlie Panangui of the Navy and Army Sgt. Eustacio Bermudez, Jr. were also pulled out from the rubble.

The two Filipinos still missing, Grace Fabian and Geraldine Lalican, both worked at the Caribbean Supermarket which also collapsed.

In a press briefing in Camp Aguinaldo, Brawner said news about the recovery of Arocena’s body reached the AFP headquarters at about 8:45 p.m. Wednesday after Dagoy called to give an update.

“On behalf of the AFP Chief of Staff, Gen. Victor Ibrado and all the men and women of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, we wish to convey our deepest condolences and heartfelt sympathies to the bereaved families of the three soldiers who died with those who suffered the killer quake in Haiti.

“Let their passing instill upon us the sacrifices of the Filipino soldiers in the course of the performance of their duties whether here in the country or overseas.  They are real heroes who unfortunately made the ultimate sacrifice while sharing the commitment of the nation they represent to the internal and local peace and security,” said Brawner.

The bodies of the Panangui, Bermudez, and Arocena will be brought to the Dominican Republic International Airport by land on Thursday right after a memorial service at the UN Log Base in Port-au-Prince.

Dagoy, in coordination with UN representatives in Haiti, is coordinating the transport and repatriation of the remains of the three soldiers.

The AFP also assured the families of Fabian and Lalican that efforts are still being done to find them.

Meanwhile, Brawner said members of the 10PCH are no longer directly involved in rescue and retrieval operations at the collapsed Christopher Hotel building. It is now being undertaken by expert rescue teams from Spain, China, France, Iceland, the United States, Guatemala, Indonesia, and the Brazilian Engineer Company which are all equipped with the necessary tools and machinery for the mission.

The 10PCH is currently tasked to transport retrieved bodies from the Christopher Hotel to the Log Base and the Argentina Hospital.

“Also, our troops help secure UN vital installations such as the UNDP compound against looters. The headquarters of the 10PCH continues to serve as trauma clinic for rescued victims,” said Brawner.

The Philippines started sending troops to Haiti for the UN Stabilization Mission in April 2004. Last August 2009, the AFP sent 157 troops for the 10th PCH, half of the number it usually sends to Haiti. The 10th PCH is composed of 14 officers

DFA confirms 2 fatalities in Haiti’s earthquake.

Department of Foreign Affairs confirmed the death of two Filipino’s in the magnitude-7 earthquake that devastates Haiti last week. The two Filipino’s were known as Jerome Yap, a UN Staffer in Haiti and Pearlie Panagui, a clerk in the Office of the Force Commander at Minustah.

Yap’s body, along with the body of Luis Carlos Da Costa, which Yap served as executive assistant, were both found in buried in the building of UN Stabilization Mission that collapsed caused by the earthquake.

While Navy Petty Officer3 Pearlie Panagui was in the 2nd floor of Christopher Hotel where her remains found by rescue operators.

Lieutenant Colorner Romeo Brawner Jr. said there are Filipinos’ still missing, namely Air Force Sergeant Janice Arocena and Army Sergeant Eustacio Bermudes Jr.  Another Filipina, Geraldine Calican, is still trapped in the Caribbean Supermarket. On the other hand, two Filipinas, Grace Fabian and Aurora Aguinaldo, were saved from the Supermarket.

Only 165 FIlipinos out of 700, including 172 are confirmed safe and alive. And Lt. Col. Brawner said all efforts are being done to rescue those who are still missing and hoping more lives will be save.

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Body of another Filipino UN peacekeeper pulled from Haiti rubble

Another body of a Filipino United Nations peacekeeper was pulled from the rubble of a collapsed building a week after a devastating quake hit Haiti.

Military spokesman Lt. Col. Romeo Brawner Jr. said in an interview at Unang Balita that the body of Sgt. Eustacio Bermudez was retrieved from the rubble of the collapsed United Nations headquarters, formerly Christopher Hotel, in Port-Au-Prince at 8:30 p.m. Tuesday (Manila time).

Bermudez is the third confirmed Filipino fatality in the magnitude-7.0 quake that rocked the Caribbean island nation. He was a clerk at the Conduct and Discipline Unit/Force Provo Martial of the Philippine peacekeeping force in Haiti.

Earlier confirmed killed in the quake was Jerome Yap, a United Nations staff member serving with the UN Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH).

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Remains of Filipino UN staffer in Haiti found

MANILA, Philippines—The remains of a Filipino United Nations staff member have been recovered, the Department of Foreign Affairs said Tuesday.

The DFA identified the fatality as Jerome Yap, who was from Pampanga, served as executive Assistant to Luis Carlos da Costa, the deputy special representative of the UN Secretary General, who was also killed in the collapsed building. They both served with the UN Stabilization Mission in Haiti (Minustah).

The department expressed “regrets to inform the public that the Philippines lost one of its own in last week’s earthquake that struck Haiti with the recovery of the remains of Mr. Jerome Yap at 5:15 a.m. (Haiti time).”

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Big One sure to come; question is when, are we prepared?

MANILA, Philippines — The 7.0-magnitude earthquake that struck Haiti a few days ago can happen in Metro Manila, according to seismologists and geologists.

The question is: Are we prepared?

It appears that we are not. Experts said preparations should begin in earnest to minimize damage to be caused by the big one.

Director Renato Solidum of the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs) said “a strong earthquake can happen” in Metro Manila or anywhere in the country.

He noted that a 7.8-magnitude earthquake struck Luzon in 1990 and a 7.1-magnitude quake shook Mindoro in 1994. “It can happen again,” Solidum said.

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RP soldier used cell phone to guide his rescuers

MANILA, Philippines—A Filipino soldier used his cell phone to lead searchers to his rescue in the basement of a collapsed hotel. But three of his comrades remained trapped in the UN building toppled by Tuesday’s powerful quake in Haiti, the military said Thursday.

In a phone call to the Philippines, the head of the Filipino contingent to Haiti, Lt. Col. Lope Dagoy, said Cpl. David Catacutan was rescued by his troops from the wreckage of Hotel Montana before noon Thursday.

Catacutan suffered bruises and was recuperating in the barracks of the Philippine contingent in the Italian House on Rue Theodule, according to Dagoy.

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Filipino rescued from collapsed Haiti building

MANILA, Philippines – One of the four missing members of the Philippine delegation to the United Nations in earthquake-hit Haiti has been rescued, a spokesman of the Armed Forces of the Philippines said Thursday.

In an interview, Lieutenant Colonel Romeo Brawner Jr., Armed Forces of the Philippines spokesman, said that at 11:30 a.m. (Manila time), the military received a report that Corporal David Catacutan was rescued by members of the Philippine contingent at the Montana Hotel.

Brawner said that based on initial medical examination, Catacutan sustained bruises but was now recovering at the headquarters of the Philippine peacekeeping mission in Haiti.

Brawner said that the family “has been informed about the rescue last night.”

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Filipino soldier rescued from collapsed Haiti building

MANILA, Philippines – One of the four soldiers trapped inside a collapsed hotel after a devastating earthquake hit Haiti has already been rescued, according to the Armed Forces of the Philippines.

AFP spokesman Lt. Col. Romeo Brawner Jr. said Corporal David Catacutan was hauled out from the rubble of the Montana Hotel in Port-Au-Prince, Haiti, around 11:30 a.m. today.

Catacutan, a member of the Philippine contingent forces in Haiti, sustained slight contusions due to the incident, which was triggered by a magnitude-7.2 earthquake yesterday. He was already brought to his detachment to rest and recuperate from his injuries.

Three other Filipino military personnel – Perlie Panague of the Philippine Navy, Sgt. Janice Arocena of the Air Force and Sgt. Eustacio Bermudes Jr. of the Army – have yet to be accounted for.

But Brawner expressed confidence that they will rescue other Filipino soldiers who remain trapped in Christopher Hotel where the UN headquarters is located.

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