52 Dead in Plane Crash
JOLO, Sulu – A top-ranking official of the Armed Forces of the Philippines told newsmen that there is no indication the military plane was attacked by the terrorist group when it tried to maneuver for landing in Jolo’s airstrip.
AFP Spokesman Colonel Edgard Arevalo said the AFP organization will start investigating the incident as soon as retrieval and rescue operations will be finally stopped and the remains of the fallen soldiers and some civilians are properly accounted for.
Arevalo said right now the focus is to immediately identify the bodies and send them to their immediate families, as well as process all the benefits they will get as members of the AFP organization in the country.
As of press time, authorities has confirmed the death toll to 52 while those who survive the crash number to 47.
According to the Department of National Defense, there were three civilians on the ground who were also killed and four others were injured as a result of the explosion of the C-130 military plane in Patikul, Sulu.
The military reported that all the three pilots have survived the tragic death but they were critically injured and recuperating in a hospital in Zamboanga City.
Most of the 52 fatalities were new graduates in a military training school based in Malaybalay City in Bukidnon. They were send to Sulu to augment the newly created 11th Infantry Division of the Philippine Army in Jolo, Sulu, one of the areas in Southern Philippines challenged by armed groups and lawless elements such as the very famous Abu Sayyaf terrorist cell in the Philippines.
Based on news agency reports, some of those who have survived the crash were Private Roejader Colata and Private First Class Reymart Bulat-ag, natives of the province of Zamboanga del Sur.
Report said that before boarding the plane in Cagayan de Oro City, Colata made a video call with his brother Rayrafar and told his brother about his first assignment in Jolo, Sulu.
Private First Class Roejader just turned 22 last June 9, according to an Aljazeera report. His father Edwin said his son just finished his military training last June 23 and he stayed at the military baracks in Cagayan de Oro.