January 30, 2023

LA TRINIDAD, Benguet – Over a hundred rescuers from the government and volunteers, including family and friends, are digging on tons of mud, scouring the rivers, checking on anything familiar such as clothes that float at the Magat reservoir, while dogs smell the surroundings to locate the remaining missing person in Ifugao.

The Police Regional Office-Cordillera did not just deploy police personnel but also the police canine (K9) unit trained for search, rescue, and retrieval operations and in providing service to the communities.

PRO-Cor Chief Information Officer, Capt. Marnie Abellanida, said four K9 dogs were deployed to help find the person who went missing in a landslide at Viewpoint in Banaue, Ifugao during the onslaught of Typhoon Ulysses on Nov. 12.

He said the canines – “Jackson”, “Penny”, “Idol” and “Panther”, all Belgian Malinois, have been deployed along with their handlers for the search and retrieval operations since day one of the search.

“Our dogs were trained to look for missing persons in rubbles. They are made to smell the clothes of a person and look for the scent as soon as they are deployed to do their job,” Abellanida said.

Handled by the PRO-Cor Regional Explosives Ordnance Division Canine Unit, the dogs will sit after smelling a familiar scent then the human rescuers will start to dig.

Tumutulong silang i-limit ang area na possible nandun ang hinahanap natin,” Abellanida said.

Known not only as man’s best friend, dogs are also law enforcement partners in tracking, drug and bomb detection, and search and rescue operations in times of calamities. They enter the service while still puppies and are given special skills training, such as smelling specific items like illegal drugs and bombs.

“As we recognize the bravery of the first responders and rescuers both from the government and civilian sector, we also should not forget the silent heroes who were working hard behind the scenes – our fur heroes from the PNP K9 units. Truly, these furry creatures deserve to be called heroes too,” said PRO-Cor Director R’Win Pagkalinawan in a press release.

Banaue Mayor Wesley Dulawan, in a social media post, said three larger composite teams continued the search for the missing victim on Nov. 17. More than 58 searchers dug deeper and wider at ground zero until nightfall.

Another team of 66 composite team members searched upstream from Linge, Kiangan, and came out through Hungduan after nightfall.

Another composite team from Alfonso Lista Police Station, Provincial Mobile Force Company, and barangay officials of Sto. Domingo and Halag in Aguinaldo also started search in Magat Dam. All yielded a negative result.

Dulawan said they will continue the search. – PNA