Military: Dead soldiers’ families to receive benefits

By : Jigger Jerusalem Mindanao Today/01:33:07pm 07/20/2021


Personnel from the Army’s 4th Infantry Division carry the metal boxes containing the six remains of soldiers from Northern Mindanao and Caraga who died during the crash of the C-130 aircraft in Sulu on Sunday during their arrival on Wednesday, July 7. (Jigger Jerusalem) (Note: This news article was published in the print edition of Mindanao Today on July 9, 2021)

CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY – Families of soldiers who died in the C-130 crash in Sulu on Sunday, July 4, will receive assistance and benefits from the military, an Army official said.

Maj. Franciso Garello Jr., spokesperson of the Army’s 4th Infantry Division (4ID), said that all soldiers would be given mandatory government benefits.

“They will get mandatory government benefits such as burial assistance for those who died, pensions, and medical assistance,” Garello said.

He added that even most of those who died were new graduate soldiers, they are beneficiaries of the mandatory assistance.

“Since they are already in training for six months, they will receive the benefits,” Garello said.

For this part, Maj. Gen. Romeo Brawner Jr., commander of the 4ID, has assured that the Army will try to give the victims and their families as much assistance as they can.

“Any kind of assistance, whether it be material, financial or assistance in terms of transportation or anything that can be given to them,” Brawner said.

Arrival of six soldiers’ remains

The 4ID has announced that the first batch of remains of soldiers from Northern Mindanao and Caraga regions who perished in the crash of the C-130 military cargo plane in Sulu on Sunday has arrived here Wednesday morning, July 7.

Garello said a C-295 aircraft brought six bodies from Sulu to the Lumbia airport in Barangay Lumbia, this city, where they received traditional military honors.

The bodies, contained in metal caskets, were being carried by soldiers as the 4ID band greeted their dead colleagues and were lined up at the airfield’s runway where top officials from the Army, police, and Phil. Air Force gave a salute to each of the casket.

The caskets were then ferried to the 4ID mortuary at Camp Evangelista, Barangay Patag, this city, so the bodies could be transferred to Phil. flag-draped coffins which were later brought to the camp’s gymnasium where families and loved ones were waiting.

Garello identified the six soldiers as Sgt. Butch Maestro, a resident of Balingoan, Misamis Oriental; Pvt. Vic Monera, Maramag, Bukidnon; Pvt. Raymar Carmona, Agusan del Norte; Pvt. Mel Mark Angana, Malaybalay City; Pvt. Mark Nash Lumanta, Maramag, Bukidnon; Pvt. Marcerlino Alquisar, Impasug-ong, Bukidnon.

He said there are 19 soldiers who have died from Northern Mindanao and Caraga, regions that are under the jurisdiction of the 4ID, adding that authorities are still in the process of determining their identities.

After the transport of the six remains, Garello said it remains to be seen when the next arrival of the second batch of cadavers will be.

Asuncion Bacolbacol, the stepmother of Alquisar, said their last conversation with Alquisar was on Saturday, a few hours before the soldiers’ scheduled flight to Sulu.

“He was telling me that they are getting ready to go on Saturday, but their flight was moved to Sunday as the C-130 had some malfunction. I have not heard from him since. The next thing we know, the tragedy happened,” she said.

Bacolbacol said it was Alquisar’s dream to become a soldier and he willingly took his chances and on third attempt, he was finally enlisted to the Army.

“He really achieved his dream of becoming a soldier, but it was just so sad that he died,” she added.

Second life

In a meet-and-greet with reporters Monday, July 5, Brawner said he and his family and staff boarded the same aircraft, which took off at the Villamor Air Base in Pasay City hours before the crash.

He said they alighted at the Lumbia airfield in Barangay Lumbia, this city, before the C-130 proceeded to the Laguindingan Airport in Laguindingan, Misamis Oriental, to fetch the waiting soldiers who were on their way to Sulu.

Brawner said he considered his days following the crash as his “second life.”

“I am very thankful to God that he saved me from harm’s way. At the same time, I am said because many of our soldiers died,” he said.

At Villamor, he recalled that the aircraft’s pilot would give a pre-flight briefing to the most senior military officer who will be boarding as a passenger, which happened to be him, being a major general in the Army.

“I got to know the pilots. There were even members of the PAF who want to hitch a ride, although they were not in the manifest. I said yes, why not,” Brawner said, adding that, “when I was told that the C-130 that we were in a few hours before crashed, I felt sad. I had goosebumps.”

In his earlier statement, Brawner said he joins the whole nation in mourning the sudden loss of the soldiers and reassured his steadfast support to the survivors.

“The 4ID extends its deepest sympathies to the families of the fallen soldiers during the C130 accident in Patikul, Sulu. May our mighty Creator grant them strength and comfort in this time of immense grief. We are honored and grateful for their patriotic service,” he said.

“We assure the general public and the families that the whole 4ID is closely coordinating with the Western Mindanao Command for any updates and for the necessary assistance we shall offer to the families of our fallen heroes. Let’s continue to pray that no more deaths will be added in the list,” Brawner added.

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