MANILA - The Philippines on Friday confirmed that three Filipinos were on board downed Malaysian Airlines MH17 and urged for a thorough investigation.
The Boeing 777, on a flight from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur, was shot down in the Donetsk region of Ukraine, near the Russian border on Thursday (July 17), killing all 298 people on board.
"Earlier today, we confirmed that there are three Filipinos among the passengers on board Malaysian Airlines flight MH17 that crashed between Ukraine and Russia, and at this time we already have the names of the three Filipinos, but we cannot release them yet, pending notification of their next of kin. As was said by the Malaysian airlines, we allow them to notify their families, and if they're not able to do so and they request us, then we will assist them in notifying their next of kin," Philippine Foreign Affairs spokesperson Charles Jose said.
He also urged a thorough investigation over the incident.
"We don't know yet what exactly happen, who's responsible, if it is indeed shot down by a missile, so investigations are still ongoing, so pending that we reserve our comment," he said.
The Philippines earlier released a written statement expressing condolences to the victims of MH17 and urged the airline company to assist the affected families.
One U.S. official said Washington strongly suspected the Malaysian Airlines Boeing 777 was downed by a sophisticated surface-to-air missile fired by Ukrainian separatists backed by Moscow.
There were no survivors from Thursday's crash, which left wreckage and bodies scattered across miles of rebel-held territory near the border with Russia. Makeshift white flags marked where bodies lay in corn fields and among the wreckage.
The scale of the disaster could prove a turning point for international pressure to resolve the crisis in Ukraine, which has killed hundreds since protests toppled the Moscow-backed president in Kiev in February and Russia annexed the Crimea a month later.