Armed Forces of the Philippines

Military in the process of identifying soldiers in Sulu crash

Bobby Lagsa
Military in the process of identifying soldiers in Sulu crash

Search and retrieval operations following the crash of the Philippines Air Force Lockheed C-130 plane carrying troops, in Patikul, Sulu province, Philippines, July 4, 2021.

Armed Forces of the Philippines - Joint Task Force Sulu/Handout via REUTERS

Major General Romeo Brawner Jr, 4th Infantry Division commander, says the bodies of the dead soldiers would be brought to their families as soon as they have been identified

The military is now in the process of identifying the soldiers who died in Sunday’s C-130 plane crash in Patikul, Sulu province so that their remains could be brought back to their families, a military official said on Monday, June 5.

Major General Romeo Brawner Jr, 4th Infantry Division commander, said this as local officials in Cagayan de Oro City and Misamis Oriental province asked the defense department and the military to provide them a list of soldiers from the city and the province so that the local government could honor the dead and aid their families as well as those who survived the crash.

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But identifying some of the dead would not be a walk in the park. At least 38 bodies found at the crash site were burned beyond recognition, and were brought to various funeral parlors in Zamboanga City, said a source from the Scene of the Crime Operatives (SOCO) in Zamboanga City. The bodies were charred that the task of identifying them would require DNA tests.

Brawner assured the bodies of the dead soldiers would be brought to their families as soon as they have been identified.

He said not all the soldiers in the ill-fated plane were from Cagayan de Oro City and Misamis Oriental. Others, he said, were from Bukidnon and other provinces, some of whom volunteered to serve the military in Sulu.

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Brawner said, “Not all of them are private; it’s a mixture of different ranks. Some volunteered to be assigned in the 11th Division,” Brawner said.

The flight manifest, however, showed 44 of the 96 soldiers onboard the plane held the rank of private while 17 others were privates 1st class. Also listed were two technical sergeants, seven sergeants, two staff sergeants, and a dozen corporals.

With other Air Force aircraft grounded pending the result of the investigation into the Sulu crash, several airlines offered to help the Armed Forces bring the bodies home, according to Brawner.

He said the military was also considering other options.

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“Our Navy ships are also available, but there is no decision yet on exactly how we will bring the cadavers back to Cagayan de Oro or other provinces,” Brawner said. “But be assured that once they are identified, they will be brought home.”

The soldiers’ remains were retrieved, and survivors were airlifted from Sulu province to Zamboanga City with the help of the US government.

Zamboanga Mayor Maria Isabelle Climaco on Monday acknowledged the US’s help in assisting military doctors in the transfer and treatment of the patients.

The US assistance was given based on the request of Western Mindanao Command (Wesmincom) chief Lieutenant General Corleto Vinluan.

On Monday, Zamboanga City also received help from Davao City that sent a group of physicians and a nurse who brought with them medical supplies. The team of doctors were: James David, Kent Antolin, Ali Pendaliday, Jikko Superioridad, Kalvin Estañero, Marvie Aguro, and nurse Aljimar Kahal. – Raappler.com