4 killed in military chopper crash in Basilan

Robie de Guzman   •   September 16, 2020   •   872

Four people were killed after a rescue helicopter belonging to the Philippine Air Force crashed in Lantawan town in the province of Basilan on Wednesday.

Authorities said the bodies of the casualties have been recovered by the members of the 4th Special Forces Battalion dispatched to conduct a search and rescue operation at the crash site.

Initial investigation showed that the chopper, believed to be flying from Zamboanga City to an unknown destination, crashed in a rubber plantation in Barangay Upper Manggas in Lantawan around 1 p.m.

Authorities said the chopper went down during a bad weather but investigation into the cause of the incident is ongoing.

They are also verifying the identities of the fatalities and whether they were all Air Force personnel. – RRD (with details from Correspondent Val Villaflor)

Philippine Air Force grounds entire fleet of Hueys after fatal crash in Bukidnon

Marje Pelayo   •   January 18, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — The Philippine Air Force (PAF) has grounded its entire fleet of UH-1H helicopters while investigations on the fatal crash in Bukidnon on Saturday (January 16) are ongoing.

“Definitely lahat ng UH-1 helicopter natin will be grounded until such time makumpleto yung thorough maintenance inspection. Part po kasi iyan ng safety procedure,” confirmed PAF Spokesperson LtCol. Aristides Galang.

The official also spoke to rectify rumors that the cause of the mishap was engine failure.

“Masyado pa po kasing maaga, so yung investigating team natin hindi po ganoon kabilis na made-determine natin kaagad kung ano yung cause of the accident, ng mishap,” he said.

“Marami po kasi tayong factors na ikino-consider. Hindi po natin masabi kaagad na may problema sa makina yung eroplano,” he added.

All five PAF personnel who were killed in the incident were given full military honors on Sunday (January 17).

They were pilot LtCol. Arnie Arroyo; co-pilot 2Lt. Mark Anthony Caabay; Sgt. Mervin Bersabe; Air First Class Stephen Agarrado; and Sgt. Julius Salvador.

Two members of the Citizen Armed Force Geographical Unit (CAFGU) namely Jerry Ayocdo and Jhamel Sugalang who were with them were also killed in the incident.

The group was supposed to deliver food supplies to a patrol base in Impasug-Ong, Bukidnon.

Based on the latest report of the 4ID Philippine Army, the remains of the five soldiers were laid at the headquarters of the 205th Tactical Helicopter Wing in Mactan Cebu while the remains of the two CAFGU members were transported to their respective hometowns and families. —MNP (with reports from Lea Ylagan / Val Villaflor)

Zamboanga City eyes restrictions vs travelers from Sabah, BaSulTa areas

Robie de Guzman   •   December 29, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – The government of Zamboanga City is looking to implement a travel restriction for passengers coming from Sabah, Basilan, Sulu, and Tawi-Tawi (BaSulTa) areas amid reported cases of a new coronavirus disease (COVID-19) variant.

Zamboanga City Mayor Beng Climaco said she has requested for a meeting with the city council to discuss the possibility of issuing a resolution on the proposed travel suspension.   

Climaco said the proposal follows the reported case of a new COVID-19 variant in Sabah, which is only a few hours away from Zamboanga City.

“We requested the Sangguniang Panglungsod to call for an emergency meeting for a resolution in order to have a moratorium of travel to Basulta and Tawi-Tawi, as well as Sabah,” she said.

The mayor further stated that the Philippine Navy has deployed three additional ships to Sitangkai Island in Tawi-Tawi, which is near Sabah, to monitor the area and prevent any passenger vessels from entering Zamboanga and BaSulTa areas.

Apprehended passengers and vessels will be turned over to their respective local government units to undergo a quarantine period, according to Climaco. – RRD (with details from Correspondent Lalaine Moreno)

Philippine Air Force receives 6 Black Hawk choppers

Aileen Cerrudo   •   December 10, 2020

MANILA, Philippines — The Philippine Air Force received six Sikorsky S-70i Black Hawk choppers during a turnover ceremony in Clark Freeport, Pampanga on Thursday (December 10).

Department of National Defense (DND) Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said the six Black Hawk choppers are the first batch of the 16 new combat utility helicopters bought from Poland under the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Modernization Program.

“We got a better deal with these aircraft. Not only is the Black Hawk more powerful, there is more payload, has a longer range, but we also got them at the price with the bell412 which is a cheaper aircraft,” he said.

Lorenzana said the deal costs P11.6 billion and has replaced the cancelled contract of 16 Bell 412EP helicopters from Canada.

The DND Secretary also said the helicopters will be useful in medical evacuation, troops insertion, as well as for the government’s COVID-19 response.

“These aircraft would greatly help the armed forces operational readiness. equipped with the Black Hawk our air force can now provide prompt and sustained day and night tactical lift as well as combat and non-combat search and rescue operations,” he said.

Ten more of the said helicopters are expected to arrive in 2021. AAC (with reports from Lea Ylagan)

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