Archive for the ‘Airforce’ Category

What’s common in C-130 plane crash, Sulpicio Lines’ sinking & the “MOA-ancestral domain” controversy

August 31, 2008

The Philippine Air Force (PAF) symbolic coffins of people presumed dead in a C-130 cargo plane crash bring a message. Barely a week has passed that the 9 military personnel went missing. Many think it’s too soon to dismiss them as dead, much more mourn with a posthumous memorial when no exhaustive search for their bodies have been done.

The flag-draped tribute for the brave soldiers was emotionally-moving. (Photo Credit: Philstar) The same day as the Philippine Navy (PN) announced having found the site of crash, the glum spectacle of honoring those who “perished,” went on. Nobody reported having retrieved a body. No one knows from whom the pieces of human flesh found in the crash site belong to. Only a lonely badge of “Armadong Kusog ng Pilipinas,” ID cards, and an assortment of personal effects stand as evidence of death, convincing high-ranking military officers to “close” the grim case.

Declaring a quick closure on missing persons has become too common in the Philippines. When Abu Sabaya was allegedly swallowed by the sea during a bloody confrontation with the military, a pair of sun-glasses was all that was needed to tell the world, the notorious Abu Sayyaf hostage-killer of Christian missionary Martin Burnham with a hefty cash bounty on his head, was dead. Fabled money was exchanged swiftly as the news rolled in, confusing the public with embarrassing inconsistencies in government statements and media reporting.

Many passengers of the Princess of the Stars were presumed to have passed on almost immediately when the ferry ship was found grounded near Sibuyan Islands. Similarly, the Dona Paz collision with tanker Vector brought fast presumption of deaths, including those not included in the ship manifest.

It seems the military authorities rushed beyond their call of duty by presuming these people were all dead. Military bravery and “efficient” swiftness were perhaps what they wanted to project. But they ignored the medico-legal ramifications of declaring a missing person dead—-something reminiscent of the gaffe behind the bungled memorandum of agreement-ancestral domain (MOA-AD,) tossed to the Supreme Court when Philippine peace negotiators (military men involved) didn’t do enough to ascertain the applicability and legality of giving away territorial concessions to the MILF.

The distribution of cash awards to relatives of unverified dead victims of Sulpicio Lines (Princess of the Stars.) was another thing. Without waiting if the “dead” people involved were truly among the passengers in the boat which sank at the height of Typhoon Frank, there were offers to silence the victims’ relatives with cash. For sometime now, the uproar raised by the mishap had died down quickly as the lawsuits that followed.

Certainly, there are laws governing the declaration of death of a missing person. They have serious practical applications which cover diverse issues such as settling of a decedent’s estate, the awarding of inheritance, indemnity claims, insurance benefits, the exercise of a citizen’s rights to vote, accountability for a crime or contracting marriage.

Let us take contracting marriage as an example. To the best of my knowledge the Philippine Family Code stipulates in Article 41 a 4-year wait before a missing person to be declared dead for the purpose of re-marriage. The waiting time is shortened to two years for a spouse, if the missing person presumably passed on in a sea voyage—- like the sinking of the Sulpicio Lines ferry or in a the falling of an aircraft from the sky like the missing persons of the C-130 plane crash.

At a glance, one can see how often the law is brushed aside. With out following the judicial rules, empty coffins are paraded which seem to perturb the silent public. No one raises any objection— not even the grieving victims’ relatives who took P60,000 (less than $2,000) as “financial” aids for the “death” of their loved ones. =0=

UPDATE: September 2, 2008, a day after the military’s posthumous tribute was held, 7 bodies out of 9 were allegedly recovered. Though not all bodies were complete, waiting for some time was more appropriate so taht the remains of those who perished in C-130 plane crash could be included in the memorial. In keeping with the law, a premature declaraion of death could be avoided.

2009 national budget, 100,000 jobs, & the Asian poverty line

August 28, 2008

P1.415 Trillion
The 2009 national budget, 15% higher than of 2008, has been approved by Pres. Gloria M. Arroyo and will be submitted to Congress. Manila Bulletin (08/26/08, Rosario,B)

24.5 Million
The number of Filipinos who fall below the “Asian poverty line” of $1.35/day spending, according to the Asian Development Bank (ADB.) An estimate of purchasing power and level of financial hardship, the Philippines’ percentage of people below the poverty line (29.5%) is better than India, Bangladesh,, and Cambodia, but worse than Pakistan, Indonesia, Vietnam and Sri Lanka . ABS CBN News.com/Newsbreak (08/27/08, Rimando,L)

1
The remaining flying C-130 Hercules plane the Philippine Air Force (PAF) has after the recent crash in Davao City; all pilots and crew remain missing and are presumed dead. Malaya (08/27/08, Chua, J.)

P1 Billion
To bring home medals in future Olympics and to augment competitiveness, a proposed increase in the budget of the Philippine Sports Commission, double the previous amount of P500-600 million, was aired by Monico Puentebella, RP chief of Olympic Mission. Though not strictly implemented, Philippine Amusement and Gaming Board Corp (PAGC0R,) is mandated by law to give 5% of its gross income to the sports development. GMA TV News (08/26/08)

29 Cases
This reported new HIV cases/ month of 2007-2008 is higher than the 20/month of the previous years. Since 1984, a total of 3,305 HIV cases have been reported in the Philippines and 310 people have died from AIDS. These figures are low-prevalence statistics which can change into high prevalence or to an epidemic if HIV cases continue to rise. AFP (08/26/08)

24
Number of maids, including Filipinos, who died in Lebanon as reported by Human Rights Watch, the New York based the group who said that Overseas Foreign Workers (OFW’s) from countries like the Philippines, Sri Lanka and Ethiopia were forced to suicide by jumping out of buildings because of isolation, difficult working conditions and maltreatment from their employers. AFP (08/26/08)

P406.8 Billion
The amount paid by the Philippines for its loan between January to July this year, 0.6% less than the amount paid for the period of 2007. Lower by 6.9% from P249.88 billion, the principal debt payments totaled P232.6 billion. Interest payments totaled P174.22 billion, up 9.2 percent from P159.49 billion. PDI (08/28/08, Remo, M.)

74,581 Families
The number of families with 362,475 persons displaced as of August 27, 2008 in the war between MILF rebels and Philippine Government forces in Mindanao, said the National Disaster Coordinating Council (NDCC.) To escape the fighting, 33, 438 families (156,059 people) fled to 152 evacuation sites. At least 55 have died in the ongoing hostilities. GMA TV News (08/27/08)

100,000 Jobs
Bureau of Immigration (BI) Marcelino Libanan claimed this number of jobs which can be generated with the granting of indefinite visas for foreigners who can provide at least 10 gainful employment opportunities for Filipinos in their businesses. Manila Bulletin (08/28/09, Ramirez, J.)Photo Credit: Simmons,A.=0=

PAF: A lone cargo plane for a thousand brave men

August 27, 2008

The Philippine Airforce (PAF) faces a significant blow in the crashing of a C-130 cargo plane in Davao, Philippines on August 26, 2008. One of only two remaining cargo planes that fly, the craft went down while on a military mission in Southern Philippines, killing its pilot and crew under yet-to-determined circumstances. It raises the possibility of terrorism or sabotage.

The C-130 is essential in ferrying military hardware and men in the country, particularly in war-torn Mindanao where Islamic separatist MILF and Moslem rebels are waging a fight. The plane serves as an over-taxed workhorse of the air for years—- one of only five, three of which are grounded for repairs.

Believed to have died, those on board at the time of the downing of the plane are as follows: Major Manuel Sambrano, the aircraft’s pilot; Captain Adrian de Dios, co-pilot; Flight Technical Sergeant Constantino Lobregas; Staff Sergeant John Arriola; Staff Sergeant Gerry Delioso; Staff Sergeant Felix Pedro Patriarga; Staff Sergeant Patricio Claur Jr; Staff Sergeant Aldrin Ilustrisimo and Staff Sgt. Perronilo Fernandez. GMA TV NeWs (08/27/08)

The PAF, its military dependents, and civilians rely on the C-130 as means of travel in the islands. With thousands of ground airmen and personnel who are battle-ready and willing to defend the country, an acute lack of equipment, like a loss of a plane, is a crashing blow to the military which needs both force and air. It raises anew the need to upgrade the air defense of the country =(Photo Credit: Pikitbulag)=0=