CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY, Philippines — Seven military personnel died on board a UH-1 “Huey” helicopter ferrying supplies for government troops that crashed in the mountains of Impasug-ong town, Bukidnon, Saturday, January 16, afternoon, police said.
A police report identified seven uniformed personnel, including four from the Phil. Air Force (PAF) and three from the Phil. Army, two of whom are members of an auxiliary unit, who died in the incident.
In a telephone interview Saturday evening, Major Rodulfo Cordero Jr., spokesperson of the Army’s 4th Infantry Division, has confirmed that all those aboard the aircraft were killed in the crash.
Those who died in the crash were identified by Cordero as Lt. Col. Arnie Arroyo, pilot; 2nd Lt. Mark Anthony Caabay, co-pilot; Sgt. Mervin Bersabe; Airman 1st Class Stephen Agarrado; Sgt. Julius Salvado; Jerry Ayocdo; and Jhamel Sugalang.
Arroyo, Caabay, Bersabe and Agarrado were PAF personnel, Salvado was from the Army, and Ayocdo and Sugalang were members of the Army’s Cafgu Active Auxilliaries.
Cordero said the helicopter came from the 403rd Infantry Brigade headquarters in Malaybalay City and was on its way to a remote army base patrol in Impasug-ong near the Agusan del Sur boundary to bring provisions to soldiers conducting anti-insurgency operations when it crashed.
Cordero said there were actually two helicopters flying in convoy en route to their destination.
The helicopters belonged to the PAF’s 205th Tactical Helicopter Wing in Cebu, with the Tactical Operations Group-10 based in Barangay Lumbia, this city, as the controlling unit.
He said the helicopter went down probably due to a mechanical malfunction and not from the weather condition.
It was also unlikely, Cordero said, that it was shot down by the Communist guerrillas as military helicopters usually fly at an altitude, about 800 meters, beyond the range of assault rifles.
Cordero said the wreckage of the crashed helicopter is now being guarded by soldiers from the 8th Infantry Battalion until experts from the PAF can finish its investigation on the exact cause of the crash.
He said the bodies of those who died in the crash were recovered and brought to the 403rd camp. (davaotoday.com)