53-year-old Carlos Dapanas Sr. watched in silence as the military honor detail brought the white wooden casket of his son inside the gym in Camp Evangelista, Cagayan de Oro City, on Monday, July 12.
His son and namesake Carlos Jr. was among the 87 Army soldiers from the 4th Infantry Division who boarded the ill-fated Philippine Air Force C-130 that crashed in Patikul, Sulu, on July 4.
Army Private Dapanas, from Manticao town, Misamis Oriental, was identified only through DNA tests. His father was swabbed in Tipanoy, Iligan City, on Friday.
By Sunday, the police’s Scene of the Crime Operatives (SOCO) team informed the elder Dapanas that they found a match.
Five soldiers who were identified through the same DNA process were brought to Cagayan de Oro on board a Philippine Air Force C-295 medium transport plane on Monday.
This brought the number of soldiers who were brought here after being identified to 11.
Major Francisco Garello, spokesperson of the 4th Infantry Division, said they resorted to DNA tests after some families of the crash victims asked for more proof that the burnt bodies sent to them were really that of their loved ones.
“We have resorted to the more reliable DNA tests as well as the dental records for matching,” Garello said.
Garello said 20 remains have already been identified through DNA tests and dental records, while 29 more bodies are still being processed.
He said at least 47 survivors are recuperating in various hospitals in Zamboanga City as of this posting.
Garello said 87 soldiers from the 4th Infantry Division boarded the plane in Laguindingan Airport for Patikul, Sulu, on July 4.
The soldier’s brother, Police Patrolman Melgazar Dapanas, had to be consoled by a colleague when he was overwhelmed by his emotions while viewing the casket.
The soldier’s wife Emabel, who had her less-than-a-year-old baby girl, was also in tears.
Emabel did not open the casket of her husband after the family was advised by the military not to because the body was burned beyond recognition.
“I have to accept this no matter how painful it is for the sake of our child,” she said. – Rappler.com