MANILA – A Philippine Air Force (PAF) C-130H Hercules transport aircraft crashed in Patikul, Sulu on Sunday morning, Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) chief Gen. Cirilito Sobejana confirmed.
In an interview with reporters, Sobejana said the incident happened around 11: 30 a.m.
“One of our C-130s, while transporting our troops from Cagayan De Oro, na-miss nya ‘yung runway, trying to regain power, at hindi nakayanan, bumagsak doon sa may Barangay Bangkal, Patikul, Sulu (One of our C-130s, while transporting troops from Cagayan De Oro, missed the runway, tried to regain power but failed, and ended up crashing in Barangay Bangkal, Patikul, Sulu)," he said.
Sobejana did not identify the runway but the nearest and sole airport in the area is in Jolo.
Efforts are ongoing to rescue passengers of the ill-fated aircraft.
Around 40 passengers have been rescued and are now undergoing treatment at the 11th Infantry Division hospital in Barangay Busbus.
No other details were immediately available, Sobejana said.
Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said initial reports stated that there were 92 onboard including three pilots and five crew members.
The rest were Army personnel reporting for duty.
"So far, 40 wounded and injured were rescued and 17 bodies recovered," Lorenzana said in a statement.
The PAF likewise confirmed the incident.
"A C-130 aircraft of the Philippine Air Force with tail #5125 figured in a mishap upon landing in Jolo,” the PAF stated.
The aircraft took off from Villamor Air Base in Pasay en route to Lumbia Airport and subsequently ferried personnel to Jolo, PAF spokesperson Lt. Col. Maynard Mariano said.
Lorenzana urged the public to refrain from spreading speculative statements, like alleged defective equipment being purchased by the AFP.
"We are currently focusing our attention on the rescue of the survivors of the C-130 crash and all available resources of the AFP are being utilized for the ongoing search and retrieval operations," Lorenzana said.
“With investigations of the past mishaps still ongoing, such speculations are as of yet baseless and disrespectful to the affected men and women of the PAF, AFP, and their families,” he added.
Philippine National Police (PNP) chief, Gen. Guillermo Eleazar, likewise directed the Police Regional Office-Bangsamoro Autonomous Region (PRO-BAR) to check on affected residents.
"I have already instructed the Regional Director of PRO-BAR to coordinate with the AFP in extending all the necessary assistance, including attending to the medical needs of those who survived the plane crash and extend the same assistance to them," Eleazar said in a statement.
Eleazar said the PNP grieves with the AFP for the untimely death of some of its personnel.
"Not only friendship but brotherhood was established between police and military personnel in the performance of our sworn duty of achieving our common goal of lasting peace and development in Sulu and other conflict-torn areas of Mindanao," he added.
The aircraft was one of the two C-130H acquired through a grant from the US government. It arrived in the country on January 29 and was formally welcomed to the PAF fleet at Villamor on February 18.
The cost of acquiring the two C-130H aircrafts was earlier placed at PHP2.5 billion, with the Philippines contributing PHP1.6 billion and the US about PHP900 million.
it is a four-engine turboprop military transport aircraft designed and built originally by Lockheed, now Lockheed Martin.
Capable of using unprepared runways for takeoffs and landings, the C-130 was originally designed as a troop, medical evacuation, and cargo transport aircraft. (With reports from Christopher Lloyd Caliwan/PNA)