Trigger Warning: Contains mentions of death
The last video of one of the five veteran rescuers who lost their lives while on duty during the onslaught of Typhoon “Karding” (international name: Noru) gained traction online.
ABS-CBN News on Tuesday managed to obtain a Facebook live of George Agustin, who was on his way to rescue stranded residents in Bulacan, among the provinces along the tropical cyclone’s path.
Agustin was assigned to the town of San Miguel, along with fellow rescuers Troy Justin Agustin, Marby Bartolome, Jerson Resurreccion and Narciso Calayag.
While they came from different towns, all were designated to the Bulacan Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office (PDRRMO).
Dante Sheperd, leader of the fallen rescuers, said that they went out after receiving a report that some residents needed help.
“Kasagsagan po, around 1 to 2 a.m. po, kasagsagan po ng bagyo, sa pagtawid po dito sa Central Luzon. Siyempre may mga nai-report po sa kanila na naipit po, mga kailangang ilikas na mga kababayan po, so siyempre, trabaho po ng tropa. ‘Yun, hindi na rin inaasahan ‘yung trahedya,” he said in an interview.
According to Bulacan Vice Gov. Alex Castro, the rescuers were preparing lifeboats to help those trapped in floodwaters at around Sunday midnight when a collapsed wall hit them, causing them to drown in the rampaging waters.
Their bodies were found in Sitio Banga, Barangay Kamias, at around 4 a.m. the next day.
The actual cause of their deaths was being determined, with an autopsy underway as of Monday.
Bulacan Gov. Daniel Fernando mourned the deaths of the rescuers, saying that they sacrificed their lives to fulfill their mission of saving Filipinos.
“Sa ngalan ng lalawigan ng Bulacan, ako ay taus-pusong nagpapasalamat at ikinararangal ang kanilang ipinamalas na kabayanihan at matapat na pagtupad sa kanilang tungkulin, sukdulang isakripisyo ang kanilang sariling buhay,” he said early this week.
Bulacan PDRRMO Chief Liz Mungcal also shed tears for the rescuers who she had mentored and considered as family.
A day after their bodies were found, a Facebook livestream of Agustin was obtained and shared on social media.
It showed him addressing residents of San Miguel while in transit and telling them they were on their way.
“Tara na!” Agustin said in the video. He then greeted some who began to tune in to his livestream.
“Let’s go, San Miguel! Hintayin niyo kami, San Miguel,” he added.
“See you, mamaya nako magla-live, ‘pag malapit na! Ba-bye! Agustin continued in a cheerful tone.
His video, uploaded by a news outlet, has earned 1,700 comments and over 865,000 views so far.
Some Filipinos offered tributes for Agustin in the comments section.
Others said the rescuer’s death should be an eye-opener for those who evade rescue operations.
“Kaya sa mga matitigas ang ulo na ayaw kaagad lumikas, sana maisip niyo na may mga pamilya ring nag-aantay sa mga rescuer. Ito ang tunay na mga bagong bayani ng bansa natin, kaya sana mabigyan pansin ng gobyerno ang mga naiwang pamilya nila,” a Facebook user wrote.
“Sana maging aral din ‘to sa mga matigas ulo na ayaw pa kaagad lumikas, ‘yung gusto pa nasa delikado sitwasyon at kailangan pa i-rescue!! Rest in peace, mga sir,” another Pinoy said.
“At sa mga tao, sana sa susunod ‘pag may bagyo, [automatic] na kailangan niyo lumikas, kung alam niyong nasa delikadong lugar kayo. Dahil katulad niyo rin, ang mga rescuers ay may pamilya rin,” wrote a different Facebook user.
Fernando said that all of the benefits intended for the victims from the provincial government will be given to their respective families.
He will also provide personal financial assistance and settle the funeral arrangements.
A resolution seeking to honor the rescuers was filed before the Senate.