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Archive for August 27th, 2008

No survivors so far in crashed C-130–Navy official

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Air Force chief rules out sabotage

By Joel Guinto
First Posted 13:25:00 08/27/2008

MANILA, Philippines — No survivors from the C-130 that crashed into the Davao Gulf have been found, a Navy official said Wednesday as the commander of the Philippine Air Force (PAF) said he is “ruling out” sabotage as the cause of the incident.

On the second day of search operations, only a plane seat and more human body parts have been recovered so far.

But despite saying sabotage was a “remote” possibility, Air Force chief Lieutenant General Pedrito Cadungog said he would still wait for the results of the official investigation of the incident by a PAF fact-finding team.

Search teams from the Philippine Navy and the Philippine Coast Guard also have not seen the fuselage of the ill-fated aircraft, which, according to sonar, lies on the seabed 600 to 800 feet below the surface, 2.5 nautical miles southwest of Samal Island, Captain Rosauro Gonzales said.

Asked if there were signs of life in the area, Gonzales said: “Sa ngayon, wala kaming nakikita. [As of now, we have not seen any]. Firstly, we have not confirmed the crash site.”

Gonzales said there have been no reports of survivors washed ashore in Davao City or Samal Island, between which the C-130 Hercules crashed shortly after taking off from Davao International Airport on Monday evening. The plane was carrying two pilots and seven crewmen.

Local search teams could only dive from 200 or 300 feet, Gonzales said, adding a submarine or a mini-submarine will be needed to inspect or salvage the wreckage.

The human body parts recovered on Wednesday were placed in three black plastic bags, he said.

Strong currents washed the body parts and the debris near the shore, a distance from where the sonar had located the fuselage, he said.

With sabotage ruled out, the possible causes of the crash are pilot failure, material failure, and bad weather, Cadungog said.

“I am ruling it [sabotage] our already,” the PAF commander said in a phone interview from Mactan Airbase in Cebu, where he met with the families of the C-130’s crew.

“As far as I am concerned, I can categorically say that it [sabotage] is remote,” he added.

Given the tight security at the Davao International Airport, Cadungog said it is unlikely anyone could have sneaked an explosive onto the aircraft.

An eyewitness interviewed on television, who claimed to have seen the crash, did not say that the plane exploded before it plunged into the sea.

The scattered human body parts and debris could be the result of the strong impact as the plane smashed into the sea, and not necessarily due to an explosion, Cadungog said.

The crash leaves only one C-130 in the Air Force’s fleet operational, although this was grounded soon after the crash was confirmed.

Three other C-130s are undergoing maintenance.

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Written by joelguinto

Wed+00:002008-08-27T09:38:10+00:00+00:0008b+00:00Wed, 27 Aug 2008 09:38:10 +0000 22, 2006 at 12:45 am08

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Offensives vs MILF to end before Ramadan–DILG chief

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Military: Assaults to go on unless ordered

By Edwin Fernandez, Joel Guinto
Mindanao Bureau,
First Posted 13:32:00 08/27/2008

MIDSAYAP, North Cotabato — (UPDATE) Interior and Local Government Secretary Ronaldo Puno said offensives by the military and police against Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) rebels in Central Mindanao are expected to end before the start of the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan.

But Brigadier General Jorge Segovia, acting chief of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) command center, said the military assaults would continue in the absence of orders to halt the operations.

Segovia said the military could not allow MILF commanders Ameril Ombra Kato and Abdurahman Macapaar, alias Commander Bravo, to get away with attacks on civilian communities.

Kato is the MILF commander whose forces occupied several North Cotabato villages early this month while Macapaar led rebels who attacked five towns in Lanao del Norte a week later.

Hostilities broke out soon after the Supreme Court issued a temporary restraining order against the signing of a memorandum of agreement on ancestral domain between the government and MILF.

After driving back Kato and Macapaar’s forces, the military has continued pursuing the rebels, hoping to capture the two MILF commanders to face criminal charges filed against them.

Speaking to reporters after a meeting with North Cotabato officials, religious leaders and civic organizations, Puno said the world of MILF commander Kato is “getting smaller everyday” and the government hopes to bring him before the bar of justice before the month ends.

“There’s no let up, I hope it would be over before Ramadan starts,” Puno said. “He has to answer for the crimes he committed.”

But asked if the pursuit of the two MILF commanders would be suspended in deference to Ramadan, which starts September 1, Segovia said: “The military follows orders. So far, there are no orders.”

“We have objectives [the capture] the two commanders,” he said. “We have not attained our objective, so the operation will continue.”

At the same time, Segovia said resistance from the MILF in Lanao del Norte and Maguindanao provinces continued to wane on Wednesday, and troops suspect the rebels are running out of ammunition and feeling the heat of the military offensives.

In Piagapo town, Lanao del Norte, where troops are running after Macapaar, heavy fighting on Sunday and Monday left 15 MILF rebels killed and five others wounded, the military said.

In Maguindanao province, where the military is pursuing Kato, two soldiers were wounded in firefights in Mamasapano and Datu Saudi Ampatuan towns over two days of fighting.

There were no reports of fresh casualties on Wednesday, Segovia said.

“Their [rebels’] ammunition is not very sustainable. There’s also the possibility that they cannot withstand the military assault,” Segovia said.

Since early August, a total of 55 people have been killed and 69 others wounded in fighting in Central Mindanao, the military said. The casualty count includes soldiers, civilians, and rebels.

Segovia dismissed as “propaganda” allegations that the military’s mortar attacks and air strikes have led to civilian casualties.

Earlier in the day, Commission on Human Rights chair Leila de Lima told the Foreign Correspondents Association of the Philippines that 20 civilians were killed when troops overran rebel positions in Lanao del Norte on Sunday.

But Segovia said “visual reports” from “forward observers” near the targets showed only rebel positions were hit.

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Written by joelguinto

Wed+00:002008-08-27T09:36:21+00:00+00:0008b+00:00Wed, 27 Aug 2008 09:36:21 +0000 22, 2006 at 12:45 am08

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