How tragic... http://www.philstar.com/Article.aspx?articleId=544803&publicationSubCategoryId=63 9 dead in PAF plane crash By John Unson (The Philippine Star) Updated January 29, 2010 12:00 AM Philippine Air Force rescue teams retrieve bodies of victims from the site after a twin-prop Nomad aircraft (inset) crashed in Cotabato City yesterday. AP | Zoom COTABATO CITY , Philippines A military plane crashed yesterday into a residential area here, killing nine people including an Air Force general and other officials aboard as well as a civilian on the ground. Among those killed were Maj. Gen. Mario Butch Lacson, commanding officer of the 3rd Air Division of the Philippine Air Force (PAF). Lacson was among the eight military officers on the twin prop Nomad 18 transport plane that crashed into Virgo Subdivision at Rosary Heights 9 at noon in this city. The other fatalities were identified as Maj. Prisco Tacoboy, 2Lt. Alexander Ian Lipae, Sgts. Cristy Llamera and Ronaldo Mejiya. Brig. Gen. Carlix Donila, commander of the 530th Air Wing and camp commander of the 3rd Air Division based here, said Capt. Gaylord Ordonio and his co-pilot 1Lt. Angelica Valdez with crew S/Sgt. Jeffrey Gozum were killed instantly in the crash. Initial reports said a certain Inday Mondrano was killed after a concrete wall collapsed on her when the plane crashed, setting fire to three houses. Another resident identified as Sheila Gumiton was rushed to the city hospital for treatment of injuries. There were initial reports that a boy went missing shortly after the crash. Donila said the plane crashed shortly after takeoff from Awang airport here where it dropped off tactical operations officer Col. Cris Tumanda who was to report back to the 3rd Air Division. The plane had stopped in Cotabato on its way from Davao City to Zamboanga City. Donila said Ordonio was able to contact the control tower in Awang minutes before the plane crashed. Four minutes later the pilot contacted the (control) tower informing them that the plane lost power, then they disappeared, Donila said. Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) deputy director Ed Kapunan confirmed that the pilot radioed soon after takeoff from Awang airport, saying the plane had developed an emergency and was heading back when it crashed. The plane first slammed on the roof of a house owned by a certain Rogelio Daet before it hit two nearby houses and burst into flames. The crash triggered a fire that burned several houses in the area. Television footage showed one charred body among the flaming debris as people tried to help firemen put out the blaze, some dousing the fire with garden hoses and pails of water. City firemen led by Adam Guiamad said the bodies of the victims retrieved from the crash site had been burned beyond recognition. With the condition of their charred remains, there is no way we can identify each of them. Experts would have to initiate DNA testing to enable authorities to identify all of them, Guiamad said. A sad day Air Force spokesman Lt. Col. Gerardo Zamudio said Lacson and the other Air Force officials were on their way back to Zamboanga City after attending a meeting at the Eastern Mindanao Command headquarters in Davao City. On their way back to Zamboanga, they dropped off Tumanda at Awang airport in Cotabato and minutes after takeoff, the plane apparently developed engine trouble. Zamudio said Air Force chief Lt. Gen. Oscar Rabena ordered an investigation into the accident and grounded all Nomad planes for inspection. The 12-seater plane built in Australia is one of the two remaining serviceable Nomads in the Air Force inventory. Another Nomad is undergoing repair. Nomads are used by the Air Force for maritime patrol and short haul transport of troops. Zamudio said the Nomads were purchased brand new by the Air Force in December 1975. Zamudio though stressed there is an ongoing investigation into the incident and refused to confirm the deaths. We could not (officially) confirm that they are dead and we could not announce their names because we have an SOP (standard operating procedure) here that we should first notify their respective families, Zamudio said. City Mayor Muslimin Sema, as chairman of the citys disaster coordinating council, said he would ask the regional Air Transportation Office (ATO) to investigate the incident. Sema pointed out the damage caused by the plane crash that also killed a resident. He said the city health office is helping the police gather evidence for the investigation. This is a very sad day for Cotabato City. This is the first time a plane crash happened here, Sema said. The 3rd Air Division, however, mourned the death of their commander and some of their personnel in the crash. Donila also said the tragedy was a big loss to the area command and Air Force leadership. We are at a loss. But we have to go on with our mission, he said. Donila said Lacson, a graduate of Philippine Military Academy Class 1977, is a seasoned pilot squadron commander. He assumed command in October last year as 3rd Air Force Division chief. Lacson is a holder of masters degrees in National Security Administration and Management from the National Defense College and the Philippine Christian University. His schooling abroad included Flight Procedures Training Course in Fort Worth in Dallas, Texas in 1996 and International Defense Management Course in Monterey, California in 2003. He is a recipient of two Bronze Cross Medals, Kahusayan Award, Sagisag ng Ulirang Kawal award, two Distinguished Service Stars, and several military commendation medals and merit medals. Before his assignment as 3rd Air Division commander, Lacson headed the 560th Air Base Wing and the Western Command (Wescom). He also served as commander of the 2nd Tactical Operations Wing, the 505th Search and Rescue and also commander of the Air Force Management Information Center. Lacson was a graduate of the Basic Ranger course, a pilot qualification course, pilot instruction course, basic intelligence source, and squadron officer courses. He finished his Bachelor of Science in Civil Engineering at Liceo del Cagayan University in Cagayan de Oro City. A native of Misamis Oriental, Lacson was due to retire on Nov. 24, 2011. Lacson is survived by his wife Elizabeth and two sons, Marion Earl and Marc Eulysee. Valdez, on the other hand, was a graduate of PMA Class 2006. She was also a graduate of the PAF flying school at Fernando Air Base in Lipa City in 2008 and had been co-piloting Nomad planes. - With Roel Pareño, Jaime Laude, Rose Tamayo-Tesoro, Rudy Santos, AP.