THE bodies of the three Filipino soldier-peacekeepers and a civilian staff of the United Nations (UN) who died in last week’s deadly quake in Haiti may arrive in Manila on Monday.
In a press briefing, Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) public affairs office chief Romeo Brawner said the bodies of the four have been brought to the UN’s logistics base in Port Au Prince where a necrological services would be conducted Friday night.
The four Haiti earthquake victims were identified as Navy Data Processor 3 Pearly Panangui, Army Sergeant Eustacio Bermudez, and Air Force Sergeant Janice Arocena, all members of the 10th Philippine peacekeeping contingent to Haiti; and UN civilian staff Jerome Yap.
After the necrological services, Brawner said the four would be brought to the Dominican Republic where they will board a plane to the Unite States. From there, the bodies will be boarded to another plane that will take them to the Philippines.
Brawner said the bodies would be escorted by some members of the Philippine contingent led by Major Steve Ducusin.
“We are expecting them Monday. Monday is the earliest time that we are expecting our three peacekeepers to return. Monday afternoon,” said Brawner. “When they reach the Philippines, they are going to receive a hero’s welcome.”
If they arrive on the evening, Brawner said the hero’s welcome would have to be deferred to the following day. “Based on our protocol, we only give honors during day time. We don’t give honors at night time.”
Also, Armed Forces chief General Victor Ibrado and the head of the military’s major services – Army, Air Force, and Navy – would be leading the hero’s welcome for the four, who were buried underneath the collapsed Christopher Hotel, headquarters of the UN in Haiti.
If they arrive on daytime Monday, Brawner said the honors would be accorded at the Villamor Air Base. But if they arrive at night, the honors may be held the following day at Camp Aguinaldo.
“They may be given honors the following day here at the GHQ (general headquarters). The plan are not yet definite but it is definite that we will have honors (for the three peacekeepers),” said Brawner.
He said not all soldiers who die in the line of duty are given honors.
On the case of the three peacekeepers, they are being accorded with military honors because “they are peacekeepers and they’ve given honors to our country. That is why we will be giving them also the hero’s welcome that they deserve.”
Two Filipino overseas workers, Grace Fabian and Geraldine Lalican, remain unaccounted. They were trapped at the collapsed Carribean Supermarket where the Filipino peacekeepers are helping to recover them.
Brawner refuted reports that the military has abandoned its efforts to account Fabian and Lalican, adding that only the Americans left the site to help search and rescue people in areas where there are more chance of survivors.
“Our efforts have not stopped. It’s only the American contingent that stopped their efforts but the Filipino contingent is continuing to find ways to recover Grace and Geraldine,” said Brawner. (VR/Sunnex)