Sulu plane crash underscores need to modernize military

Senators offered condolences to the families of 47 soldiers who died when a Philippine Air Force (PAF) Lockheed C-130H Hercules transport plane crashed in Patikul, Sulu on Sunday.

Three civilians on the ground were also killed.

At the same, Senator Ronald “Bato” Dela Rosa said in a statement on Monday that the unfortunate incident is a wake-up call to further modernize the Armed Forces of the Philippines.

“I have to wait for the results of the investigation before I lay the blame on our antiquated military aircraft. But perhaps, it is about time that we in the legislature take a second hard look at the reality that lives lost from these so-called flying coffins or widow makers are priceless compared to the foreign debt that we may incur as a result of military modernization,” said dela Rosa, who was a police officer based in Mindanao before becoming a lawmaker.

Senator Francis Pangilinan also said an investigation is needed “to find ways to avert another tragedy”.

“As they risk their lives in performing their tasks, our soldiers deserve better equipment and hardware to make every flying safe,” he said in another statement.

Senator Grace Poe echoed Pangilinan’s call for an inquiry “to see what can be done to avoid a repeat of the tragic crash and to put in place measures to make our military planes safe”.

Senator Koko Pimentel III, who hails from Cagayan de Oro where the aircraft took off en route to Jolo, said in another statement that he is deeply saddened by the crash and thanked the personnel who died “for their service to the nation. May Almighty God bless all of our soldiers and their families”.

Senator Risa Hontiveros said “the government should ensure that all benefits due their families will be released without delay and they be accorded the proper military honors upon burial”.

Initial reports said the plane with tail number 5125 was carrying 96 passengers. It attempted to land at Jolo Airport, near Camp Teodulfo Bautista, but overshot the runway.

The plane arrived in the Philippines in January and is one of six C-130s operated by the PAF’s 222nd Airlift Squadron.

It had been in service since February 1988 with the United States Air Force before being sold to the Philippines through the Defense Security Cooperation Agency. PNA.GOV.PH