The crash of the C-130 military aircraft in Patikul, Sulu is now being investigated by a team that includes seasoned pilots from the Philippine Air Force, Major General Edgard Arevalo, spokesperson for the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), said in an online press conference earlier today.
“What is yet to be determined is what caused the aircraft to [go off] the runway. This is going to be determined by a select group of tested pilots who will be the ones to assist in the conduct of the investigation,” Arevalo said.
In the meantime, the AFP will not yet release the names of the survivors, as that may also compromise the identities of the 50 people who lost their lives in the crash on Sunday, confirmed the AFP spokesman. “Not all” of the families of the deceased have been informed yet, said Arevalo, “and that is the reason we are not releasing the names of those who survived yet.”
However, Maj Gen Arevalo also emphasized that the AFP is committed to transparency in its investigation. “We reassure our people that we are transparent indeed, and the results of the investigation are available when completed,” as long the information does not affect national security, he said. In fact, Arevalo continued, family members of personnel in the crash who have approached the AFP have been given information that they needed.
Arevalo confirmed that there were 96 people in the manifest, including the three pilots and five air crew; there were 49 people rescued, who are now in different hospitals in Zamboanga City. Among the 50 fatalities are three civilians on the ground, not passengers on the military aircraft, Arevalo confirmed. Forty-nine military personnel and four civilians were also injured in the crash.