MANILA – President Rodrigo Duterte will visit Sulu in wake of the Philippine Air Force (PAF) C-130 plane crash that killed 47 soldiers and three civilians, Malacañang said on Monday.
Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said Duterte is scheduled to visit some of the victims in the plane crash, but did not give further details.
“If plans push through po, mukhang daraan po ang ating Presidente sa Zamboanga to visit some of those na nasa ospital po (it looks like the President will drop by Zamboanga to visit some of those in the hospital),” he said in a Palace press briefing.
Roque said the President extends his condolences to the families of those killed in the plane crash.
“Nagpapaabot po ng pakikiramay si Presidente Rodrigo Roa Duterte sa pamilya ng mga nasawi ng bumagsak na C-130 sa Sulu. Nagluluksa, hindi lamang ang Sandatahang Lakas ng Pilipinas, ngunit ang buong bansa sa malungkot na pangyayaring ito (President Rodrigo Roa Duterte extends his condolences to the family of those killed in the C-130 plane crash in Sulu. Not only the Armed Forces, but the whole country is mourning in this sad incident),” he said.
He said Duterte also hopes for the speedy recovery of those who were injured in the accident.
“Nananalangin po kami na yakapin ng Panginoon ang mga nagdadalamhating pamilya para maibsan kahit paano ang kanilang nararamdaman at nawa’y mabigyan sila ng lakas para malagpasan ang pagsubok na ito. Samantalang, pinagdarasal din natin ang mabilis na paggaling ng mga survivors, (We pray that the Lord embraces the grieving families to alleviate their grief and give them the strength to overcome this ordeal. While we also pray for the speedy recovery of the survivors),” he added.
The PAF C-130 plane that figured in the accident was one of the two aircraft purchased from the United States (US) last January.
Asked if Duterte ever expressed anger over the US for providing the Philippines with supposed second-hand equipment, Roque said he has yet to pass judgment pending results of the investigation.
“So far po, matinding kalungkutan dahil dun sa mga naging biktima. Wala pa namang mga ganyang pananalita akong naririnig galing kay Presidente (he has only expressed extreme sadness over the victims. He has not released statements like that as of this moment),” he said.
Armed Forces chief of staff Gen. Cirilito Sobejana said Duterte would be briefed further on the C-130 crash upon his arrival.
Sobejana said the remains of soldiers who perished in the crash are on their way to Zamboanga City onboard a Navy vessel before they will be transported to Northern Mindanao where most of the fatalities came from.
“I sympathize to the highest level to the families of those of perished,” Sobejana told Radio DXMS in Cotabato City in an interview Monday morning.
He assured that the government is attending to the needs of all who were injured in the mishap, one of the worst in Philippine military history.
“We have our team of investigators, we are in the thick of our investigation to determine what really happened. Let us wait for the probe to be completed so we can give accurate information,” Sobejana said even as he appealed to the public to refrain from speculating about the cause of the crash.
Sobejana said the three civilians who died in the incident were on the ground when the C-130 Hercules cargo plane crashed and exploded near their homes in Sitio Amman, Barangay Bangkal, Patikul. Four other civilians were injured.
Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana earlier said an investigation on the mishap is currently ongoing.
This accident happened less than two weeks after an S-70i Black Hawk Utility helicopter crashed in Capas, Tarlac during a night flight training, killing six people on board.
Meanwhile, Roque said the recent mishap should provide “an impetus for further modernization” in the AFP.
“Malungkot ang mga pangyayaring ito (This is a sad incident), but rather than deterring us, we will proceed full-speed ahead in modernizing the Armed Forces within our limited resources. Dahil alam naman natin na (Because we know that) we need a viable Armed Forces to defend particularly our territorial sovereignty,” he said. (PNA)