GRIEVING relatives and uniformed military men met in Mactan yesterday morning the remains of two soldiers killed in a plane crash last Thursday in Cotabato City.
The C130 cargo plane carrying the bodies touched down at 10:46 a.m. at the Mactan Benito Ebuen Air Base. By 10:55 a.m., the coffins were rolled down a plank while a military band played a tune.
It was not the homecoming that Vicky Llamera ever hoped to see.
She told Sun.Star Cebu she first heard from her daughter’s friend that the plane carrying her daughter, Staff Sgt. Ianne Christy Marose Llamera, had crashed.
Llamera’s burial is tentatively scheduled tomorrow.
All 500 soldiers in two squadrons saluted as the coffins were slid inside two waiting hearses. Grieving relatives bowed their heads or hugged one another, while teary-eyed residents nearby watched the arrival.
A squadron followed the hearse that brought the remains of Staff Sgt. Jeffrey Gozon to Our Lady Peace and Good Voyage chapel, some 200 meters away from the cargo plane.
There, a mass was held. The family have yet to decide yesterday where to hold the wake.
From the Mactan base, the remains of Staff Sgt. Llamera, who was a Baptist, was brought to the Rolling Hills Funeral Parlor in Mandaue City, said the Air Base Wing Commander, Gen. Edgardo Mendoza.
“Thank you sa tanan, sa mga Air Force officials, friends and the community, gipahimutang nila ang lawas sa akong igsuon (for taking care of my sister’s remains),” Joanna Rosary Llamera-Diaz said.
Minutes after making its grim delivery, the C130 was back in the air to bring to Mindanao the remains of two other officers, 2nd Lt. Alexander Ian Lipait and Staff Sgt. Ronaldo Mejia.
Also yesterday, a Malacañang official lashed out at a lawmaker’s claims that graft may have caused the crash of the Philippine Air Force (PAF) plane, which killed nine people.
Deputy presidential spokesman Ricardo Saludo refused to answer Cavite Rep. Joseph Emilio Abaya’s statement that corruption led to the poor maintenance of government equipment, including planes.
“Media should first ask that congressman what his basis was. The Palace will reply only when it sees the basis and if the basis has substance,” Saludo said on government-run dzRB radio.
He said the PAF is already doing its best to do its job despite limited resources and is careful to ensure the safety of its personnel and the public.
On Friday, Abaya said it is not the Nomad planes that are widow-makers, but “corruption not only in the military but more so in agencies and government in general.”
The PAF is still investigating what caused the crash.
Killed were PAF Major Gen. Mario “Butch” Lacson of the 3rd Air Division based in Zamboanga City; the plane’s pilot, Captain Genaro Gaylord Ordonio; 1st Lt. Angelica Valdez of the PMA Class 2006; Maj. Prisco Tacuboy; Lieutent Alexander Ian Lipait and Staff Sergeants Mejia, Llamera and Gozon.
A civilian, Inday Mondrano, was killed on the ground.
The Nomad plane crashed minutes after taking off from Awang Airport. (OCP/With Sunnex)