MANILA - Tributes poured in for soldiers who perished in the military transport plane crash in Patikul, Sulu on Sunday.
In a Facebook post, the AFP Health Service Education and Training Center paid its last respects to their alumni flight surgeon, Capt. Nigello Emeterio; flight nurse 1Lt. Sheena Alexandria Tato; and flight medic TSg. Mark Anthony Agana.
“The inherent hazards of soldiery are not exclusive to combatants. Upon taking oath and donning of uniforms, even “healers” cease to be the masters of their fates. They too, drop on their tracks and have their ashes scattered to the four winds. So, it is also just but part and parcel of their jobs. Rest in peace to our alumni,” AFP’s HSETC said in its post.
The UST Department of Biological Sciences extended its condolences to Emeterio’s loved ones.
Emeterio’s friend and colleague, Julian Arguilla, described him as a “fearless flight surgeon” who was also a frontliner during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Buong buhay niya, inalay para sa mga kapwa Pilipino niyang nangangailangan. Napakaraming nailigtas na buhay para sa napakaikling panahon na ipinahiram siya sa atin,” said Arguilla in his post on Facebook on Monday.
Arguilla added, “He is, without a doubt, one of the most selfless people I've ever known. As a doctor, as a military officer, as a brother, and as a friend. Rest well now, Nige, for you'll be home soon. I know you fought very, very hard until the end. We will finish this mission for you, and with you in our hearts always.”
Rep. Paz Radaza of the lone district of Lapu-Lapu City condoled with the family of Army Ssgt Jan Niel Macapaz, a resident of the city.
“I salute you! Heaven has gained another hero and an angel. Condolences to the bereaved family. God always gives us rainbows after thunderstorms. May God's peace be with you in your grieving. One more star will rise in the sky tonight,” she said in her Facebook post on Tuesday morning.
The City Government of Panabo also expressed its condolences to the families of 1Lt Karl Joseph Hintay of the Philippine Air Force and Private Archie Barba of the Philippine Army.
The death toll in the Hercules C-130 transport plane crash climbed to at least 52. Of the total, 49 were military personnel and 3 civilians. Forty-seven other military personnel were rescued but with injuries. Four civilians were also hurt.
The plane, acquired from the US earlier this year, overshot the runway while trying to land in sunny weather on Jolo island.
"The AFP mourns deeply the incident that took the lives of (49) of our soldiers, most of them fresh graduates from military training and supposed to be deployed to the 11th Infantry Division base in Jolo, Sulu that runs after and combats the terrorist Abu Sayyaf group in this part of the region," AFP spokesman Maj. Gen. Edgard Arevalo said on Monday.
"We seek for the prayers of our countrymen for our wounded soldiers, and for the eternal rest and repose of the souls of those who suffered in this tragedy," he said.
President Rodrigo Duterte on Monday conferred the Order of Lapu-Lapu Rank of Kampilan to the wounded soldiers, and the Order of Lapu-Lapu with the Rank of Kalasag to those who died.
He also promised aid to the families of those who perished.
AFP public affairs chief Capt. Jonathan Zata said all military camps in the country have been directed to lower the flags to half mast for six days starting Monday, except for camps where wakes are held for those who died, which will continue to do so until interment.