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6 AFP plane crash victims brought home

Gerry Lee Gorit - The Philippine Star
6 AFP plane crash victims brought home
Soldiers stand guard during the wake of their colleagues, who died in the C-130 plane crash in Sulu, at the 4th Infantry Division gym in Cagayan de Oro on Wednesday.
Gerry Lee Gorit

CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY, Philippines — The remains of six soldiers from Northern Mindanao and Caraga who died in the C-130 plane crash in Patikul, Sulu were given military honors upon their arrival at the Lumbia military airbase in this city on Wednesday.

Maj. Francisco Garello Jr., 4th Infantry Division (ID) spokesman, said a C-295 aircraft brought the bodies in metal caskets.

The caskets were brought to the 4th ID mortuary at Camp Evangelista, where the bodies were transferred to coffins draped with Philippine flags.

The bodies were set to be transported to their hometowns yesterday after a wake at the 4th ID gymnasium.

Garello identified the six soldiers as Sgt. Butch Maestro, a resident of Balingoan, Misamis Oriental; Pvt. Raymar Carmona of Agusan del Norte; Pvts. Vic Monera and Mark Nash Lumanta of Maramag;  Pvt. Mel Mark Angana of Malaybalay City, and Pvt. Marcerlino Alquisar of Impasug-ong, all in Bukidnon.

The Armed Forces of the Philippines initially identified 19 of the 49 soldiers through their dental records as most of them were burned beyond recognition.

Garello said 19 of those who died were from Northern Mindanao and Caraga. It remains to be seen when the next batch of bodies would be brought home.

“The 4th ID extends its deepest sympathy to the families of the fallen soldiers... May our mighty Creator grant them strength and comfort in this time of immense grief. We are honored and grateful for their patriotic service,” Maj. Gen. Romeo Brawner Jr., 4th ID commander, said.

“We assure the general public and families of the victims that the 4th ID is closely coordinating with the Western Mindanao Command for any updates and the necessary assistance we can offer to the families of our fallen heroes. Let’s continue to pray that no more deaths will be added to the list,” Brawner said.

As this developed, four crash survivors were brought to the Southern Philippines Medical Center (SPMC) in Davao City.

Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio sent a team of six doctors to Zamboanga City to help attend to the other survivors of the plane crash.

Carpio said the team is composed of burn specialists and surgeons.

“We have doctors who volunteered in behalf of Davao City to help the situation. They are SPMC doctors,” Carpio said.

‘Heroic deed’

Meanwhile, Westmincom chief Lt. Gen. Corleto Vinluan Jr. commended the heroism of villagers who helped rescue those injured in the crash.

“Their heroic deed is worthy of praise and recognition. This exemplifies that at times when we, protectors of the people and the state are in trouble, we have peace-loving people to depend on,” Vinluan said.

Construction worker Erham Awaluddin, 22, was among the civilians who rushed to the crash site.

“I joined the rest of the soldiers who responded... I just wanted to help the wounded victims. I was not scared because I really wanted to help,” Awaluddin said. He said he was initially prevented by his foreman as it meant losing his income for the day.

Members of the Citizen Armed Force Geographical Unit under the 5th Special Forces Company also raced to the crash site to assist injured soldiers and civilians. – Edith Regalado, Roel Pareño

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