Another crash of a medical aircraft
SHOOTING STRAIGHT - Valeriano Avila (The Freeman) - March 31, 2020 - 12:00am

You turn on your television set on Sunday, the news about the COVID-19 has become a bore simply because, except for the numbers of those infected or dead, the reports or the news are much the same worldwide as this global pandemic has become a historic world event. Yes, staying home after watching the Mass in the Capitol Parish on MyTV was the start of another boring day. Even SkyCable can only come up with old sports news since there is really no sporting activities to watch.

Meanwhile, last Sunday there was an incident at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) that added to some excitement when a Philippine-registered jet, a Lion Air Cessna Citation 500 Westwind, bound for Haneda Airport in Japan, crashed after taking off from Runway 24 past 8 p.m. To be honest about it, this is a rare incident where an aircraft blew up on its takeoff. All eight passengers on board, the medical evacuation crew, the Canadian patient, and an American, were killed.

From The Philippine STAR report, we learned that those passengers killed were the pilot Capt. Mario Medina Jr., co-pilots Ren Edward Ungson and Melvin de Castro, Dr. Cenover Nicandro Bautista II, flight medic Edmark Jael, nurse Conrado Tomeldan Jr., Canadian patient John Richard Hurst, and his assistant Marilyn Vergara de Jesus, who holds a US passport.

At this point we have no idea how and why the Westwind blew up and crashed. We’ll just wait for the civil aeronautics task force to report on this accident. At least we know that at this time, the NAIA Runway 24 has been opened. Mind you, this was one accident that shut down the NAIA runway, but didn’t create a traffic problem in the sense that civil airlines had shut down their operations.

I gathered that this was the second medical evacuation plane to crash in the Philippines in less than seven months. Last September 1, all nine passengers and crew died after a Beechcraft King Air 350 plane evacuating a New Zealander to Manila from Zamboanga del Norte crashed in Laguna. I saw the video of that crash and it seems that the pilot lost control of the plane.

Once more this reminds me to tell our congressmen that having a National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) that is an independent investigative board that handles air or ship accidents should have been created for the Philippines a long time ago. Unfortunately this was never prioritized. Incidentally, while watching the video of the PMP helicopter accident that injured PNP Director Archie Gamboa, I could sense that due to the dust cloud that literally covered the helicopter, the pilot immediately turned left at a very low altitude, which is why the chopper struck overhead electric wires. This looked like pilot error to me.

* * *

I’m sure that most of us are experiencing a high level of boredom in this lockdown that Cebu City has declared. However, there is one great suggestion that comes from my fellow columnist Atty. Josephus Jimenez who wrote an article entitled “When in quarantine, write your last will and testament.” As he suggested, “You can write it on a piece of yellow pad, bond paper or a notebook, or even in a scrap book. It must be dated and the place where you are writing the same should be stated.

“First, you need to state your name, and that you are a Filipino, of legal age, married or single or widow/widower, and a permanent resident of a definite address. Then you declare that you are of sound and disposing mind, and being so, you are writing your will of your own volition and without any force, intimidation or undue influence being exerted by anyone any time. And having stated thus, the following should be followed as your heirs and testament. First, name all your heirs and enumerate all your properties, real, personal, bank assets and cash.”

Now this is not so problematic, unless you are already in your senior years and your children have already grown up where chances are you would know which of your children really supported you or your business. Also, this is the right time to make your last will and testament because your entire family is with you inside your house. Unless you have some kids who are far away from you at this time. Thanks for this suggestion, Atty. Jimenez.

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