PRESIDENT Rodrigo Duterte finds it proper to recognize tribal folks who rushed to rescue soldiers who were onboard a military aircraft that crashed in Patikul town in Sulu Province.
In a taped briefing with top government officials, the President particularly thanked the Tausugs, whom reports claim were among the first to help soldiers in a deadly crash of the government Lockheed C-130, which carried at least 96 passengers, mostly new army soldiers bound for counter-insurgency operations in the south.
A video that was shown on national television showed local folks dashing to and from the crash site to carry as many wounded soldiers as they could.
“To the civilians of Sulu, mainly the Tausugs, who assisted the government in rescuing the passengers of the crash, maraming salamat. Shukran, shukran,” said Duterte, he extended his condolences to the families of the crash victims, who he said were “given immediate medical attendance and further treatment.”
“The Filipino people recognize and will always remember our soldiers’ deep devotion to duty. To their families, please accept the love and prayers of a grateful nation,” he added.
Witnesses and survivors told investigators the plane landed “hard” and then bounced twice before taking off again, said Lieutenant General Corleto Vinluan, chief of the Western Mindanao Command.
“Then at the right side of the airport it hit a tree — that’s the account of the injured,” Vinluan was quoted as saying in an interview to another media network.
Of the 96 passengers on board the ill-fated military aircraft, 50 have died while the rest suffered serious injuries. Three civilians who were not on the flight were also killed as the plane plowed through coconut trees and houses.
The government often uses C-130s to transport troops, supplies and vehicles. The C-130 which crashed is one of the four second-hand Hercules acquired by the government from the United States.
Interestingly the crash of the military aircraft in Patikul Sulu now leaves the country with just one operational C-130 as two others are still undergoing repairs.
Sunday’s crash was one of the country’s worst military air disasters and the latest in a series of accidents this year.
Last month, a Black Hawk helicopter went down during a night-time training flight, killing all 6 on board. The accident prompted the grounding of the country’s entire Black Hawk fleet.