Duterte: Soldiers killed in Sulu plane tragedy shall not have died in vain

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MANILA – President Rodrigo Duterte assured on Monday the families of soldiers killed and injured in the tragic Philippine Air Force (PAF) C-130 plane incident that their death will not be in vain.

This assurance was given by Duterte during his visit to the AFP Western Mindanao Command (WESMINCOM) gymnasium in Zamboanga City on Sunday to remember the victims of the military aviation tragedy in Patikul, Sulu.

“The life of a soldier is always valuable, whether in the fields of fighting or events such as this. They died for our country and for that I am very grateful to those who died and those who helped,” he said in his speech.

He stated that the national government would provide security and help to the families of the dead soldiers, including daily living expenses and tuition to support their children’s education.

“The most important thing is that itong namatay (those who have died)…they shall not have died in vain. They died for our country and it behooves upon us to continue the help when they were allowed as they are now in heaven,” he added.

Duterte also promised to increase funding for the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP).

“This I promise you soldiers, I have said this before, we are still working on it, pero gusto ko maglagay ng malaking pera para sa (but I want a bigger budget for the) Armed Forces of the Philippines,” he noted.

He cut his speech short, saying he was “at a loss of words” and didn’t want to end up crying.

“I am as sorrowful as you and as commander-in-chief, ako yung pinaka nasasaktan (I am the most hurt). I am at a loss of words,” he said.

Duterte, meanwhile, paid a visit to Camp Navarro General Hospital (CNGH) in Zamboanga City to honor the Order of Lapu-Lapu with the Rank of Kampilan to injured soldiers.

Later, he went to the Naval Forces for Western Mindanao (NAVFORWEM) to lead the symbolic Conferment of the Order of Lapu-Lapu with the Rank of Kalasag on the dead soldiers.

According to Executive Order (EO) No. 35, signed on July 28, 2017, the Order of Lapu-Lapu Kampilan and Kalasag medals are bestowed to government officials and personnel, as well as private individuals, who were seriously injured or suffered great loss of property, as well as those who lost their lives, while pursuing the President’s campaign or advocacy.

The C-130 plane carrying over a hundred passengers was on its way to transfer troops from Cagayan de Oro City to Sulu when the pilots lost power and missed the runway, according to AFP. The dead toll from the accident has risen to 52, according to Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana, with the additional loss of two military personnel. Only 47 military and three civilians had previously been reported killed.

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