AFP ‘extremely grateful’ to Tausugs, other Sulu villagers for rescuing survivors of C-130 crash

Robie de Guzman   •   July 7, 2021   •   590

The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) on Wednesday expressed its gratitude for the “overwhelming support” extended by members of the Tausug community and other villagers in Sulu during the air mishap involving military C-130 aircraft on July 4.

In a statement, AFP Western Mindanao Command (WestMinCom) chief Lt. Gen. Corleto Vinluan Jr. said the Tausug people in Barangay Bangkal of Patikul town were among the first responders when the military’s Lockheed C-130 Hercules with tail number 5125 crashed.

“The Western Mindanao Command of the Armed Forces of the Philippines is extremely grateful to the assistance extended by our brothers and sisters Tausug in Sulu who were among the first responders that rescued several survivors of the air mishap on July 4, 2021,” Vinluan said.

“To the survivors and all of us, our brothers and sisters Tausug are our heroes. They risked their own lives to save their fellow Filipinos whom they consider as their protectors from the malefactors,” he added.

The plane crash, which was described as one of the worst tragedies in Philippine military history, killed 53 individuals, including three civilians.

Forty-six military personnel and four civilians were injured in the incident and are still undergoing medical treatment.

A total of 96 people were aboard the plane during the accident.

Photos and videos of the incident that surfaced online showed some people responding to the crash site and carrying wounded soldiers to safety.

Vinluan said that aside from Tausugs, CAFGUs and cadre from Bangkal Patrol Base were also among the first responders who aggressively extricated more than 20 wounded soldiers from the incident site.

“Their heroic deeds are worthy of praise and recognition. This exemplifies that at times when we, protectors of the people and the state are in trouble, we have the peace-loving people to depend on. Muslims or Christians, we are Filipinos with one flag and one country,” he said.

“Rest assured that the Western Mindanao Command will work doubly to bring lasting peace and sustainable development in Sulu, and to keep all our brothers and sisters Muslim in the province safe and secured,” he added.

The C-130 plane crashed on Sunday morning after failing to land at the airport runway.

The military said the investigation to determine the cause of the incident is underway.

Duterte names Army chief Centino as next AFP chief

Robie de Guzman   •   November 12, 2021

MANILA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte has designated Philippine Army chief Lieutenant General Andres Centino as the new chief of staff of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), Malacañang said Friday.

“We confirm that President Rodrigo Roa Duterte approved and signed the designation of LGEN Andres Centino as Chief of Staff of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) effective November 12, 2021,” Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said in a statement.

Centino will replace General Jose Faustino Jr. who is retiring from service as he reaches the mandatory age of 56.

“We are confident that Gen. Centino will continue the initiatives of his predecessors to bring lasting peace and development in the country while securing the State and upgrading our defense capability,” Roque said.

“We wish the success of Gen. Centino in his new role as AFP Chief,” he added.

Centino is a member of the Philippine Military Academy Maringal Class of 1988.

Meanwhile, the AFP said Centino’s designation “will prompt an upward movement in the AFP leadership that will further inspire our soldiers to surpass challenges with excellence and continue our campaign towards genuine transformation.”

“He has immense knowledge and experience in leading our troops on the ground and in supporting peaceful efforts to protect our people against various threats,” AFP spokesperson Colonel Ramon Zagala said in a separate statement.

“His integrity, management acumen and genuine desire for peace and development make him a competent leader who shall guide the AFP in fulfilling its mission while supporting national efforts to battle the current pandemic,” he added.

Prior to his appointment, Centino served as AFP deputy chief of staff for operations and infantry division commander in Northern Mindanao.

Military Black Hawk choppers deployed to aid missions in Western Mindanao

Robie de Guzman   •   November 5, 2021

Two Black Hawk helicopters acquired by the Philippine military have been deployed to the Western Mindanao, the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) said Friday.

In a statement, the AFP Western Mindanao Command (WestMinCom) said its major Air Force Unit, Tactical Operations Wing-Western Mindanao (TOW-WM), has received the S70i Black Hawk Utility helicopters on November 4 at the Edwin Andrews Air Base.

These units will be used to aid in various missions, including support in combat operations and quick response for humanitarian aid, it added.

“We are very grateful that the top brass considered the deployment of these air assets which will greatly contribute to the accomplishment of our missions here in Western Mindanao,” said WestMinCom Commander, Maj. Gen. Alfredo Rosario, Jr.

Colonel Dennis Estrella, wing commander of the TOW-WM, said that the deployment of the Blackhawk helicopters will boost the capability of the armed forces in both lethal and non-lethal operations.

“Expect that with the deployment of the Black Hawk helicopters in our unit, our operations will greatly improve as these helicopters have larger capacity and more impressive horsepower allowing a faster and longer-range transport. In addition, the said helicopters have the ability to absorb high-impact velocities enabling it to withstand strong turbulent winds,” Estrella said.

Terror leader killed in Maguindanao clash – military

Robie de Guzman   •   October 29, 2021

A leader of terror group Daulah Islamiyah was killed in an encounter with state troops in Maguindanao, the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) said Friday.

In a statement, the AFP identified the terrorist as Salahuddin Hassan, who was believed to the “overall Amir” of Daulah Islamiyah.

Hassan was also said to be the one behind the series of bombings and terror attacks in Maguindanao, North Cotabato, and Sultan Kudarat.

The military said Hassan was killed early Friday morning in a joint police and military operation in Barangay Damablac in the municipality of Talayan.

Also killed in the clash was Hassan’s wife, Jehana Minbida, who was said to be the finance officer of the terror group.

The operation was launched following report from residents on the presence of suspicious armed individuals in the area.

Hassan was allegedly trying to escape when he was killed by the troops. He was seriously wounded and was left by his group along with his wife, the AFP said.

“Our operating troops were able to recover the cadaver of Hassan and Minbida together with several firearms and war material which includes a 5.56mm R4 Rifle, bandoliers, ammunition, various war paraphernalia, and subversive documents,” the military said.

AFP chief of staff General Jose Faustino Jr. commended the units involved in the operation.

“This latest accomplishment is a significant blow against the DIHG (Daulah Islamiyah-Hassan Group) and another victory in our thrust against terrorism. With their leader now dead, the terrorist group will certainly crumble,” he said.

 

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