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No survivor in presidential chopper crash, Palace says

April 8, 2009 10:16pm
‘I never thought he would be the story’

Before the ill-fated presidential chopper went missing last Tuesday, Jose Capadocia had coaxed radio dzBB’s Aileen Intia to go to Baguio for the coverage of an important story.

“Sabi niya: ‘Pumunta ka rito. Kailangan pumunta ka rito. Basta siguraduhin mo makakarating ka. Hihintayin kita dito dahil may storya tayo," says Intia as she recalled Capadocia’s exact words, adding that the “jolly" press undersecretary was “unusually serious" at the time of their conversation. More...
MANILA, Philippines - Nobody survived the chopper crash, Malacañang said Wednesday night. It said it mourns the death of all the eight passengers – three Palace officials, three military personnel, and two pilots – of the Bell 412 presidential aircraft that crashed in the northern Philippines.

“There are no survivors... we laud them. They died in the line of duty, a testament of true public service. Their service and patriotism will be remembered. We commiserate with their families and offer our deepest condolences," said deputy presidential spokesperson Lorelei Fajardo in text message to reporters.

The aircraft that took off from Loakan Airport in Baguio City late Tuesday afternoon was supposed to go to Banaue town in Ifugao province for an ocular inspection of a site that would be visited by President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo the next day.

However, amid thick fog and heavy rains, the chopper fell on a heavily forested mountain along the Mt. Pulag range. The wreckage was found on a steep slope within the boundaries of Barangay Tangawan, Kabayan, Benguet and Barangay Eheb, Tinoc, Ifugao.

Palace officials Capadocia, Frostrom and Bandayanon are among the eight people on board the ill-fated chopper. - PIA photo
The totally burned aircraft was found past 2 p.m. Wednesday by local residents. Rescuers first found three charred bodies near the crash site, according to Chief Superintendent Roberto Damian, director of the Cagayan Valley regional police.

Senior Superintendent Danny Pelisco, chief of the Benguet Police District, said two more were found later in the afternoon, another two were retrieved in the night, based on a report from Tinoc Mayor Lopez Pugong, until the Palace announced that nobody survived the crash.

A local policeman who was among those who located the missing aircraft said two of the bodies were found in pieces.

“May nakita kami na buo na isa po. Piloto yata yun [We saw a body that was still whole. We think it was the pilot’s]," said SPO2 Samuel Guyon of Tinoc Police in an interview on dzBB radio.

Asked how they were able to determine that one of the bodies belonged to the pilot, Guyon said: “Yung uniporme ho [Through his uniform]."

The aircraft, with tail number 1946, was carrying Press Undersecretary Jose Capadocia, presidential military aide Brig. Gen. Carlos Clet, Undersecretary for Presidential Engagements and Appointments Malou Frostrom, Presidential Management Staff assistant director Perlita Bandayanon, Navy Petty Officer 1 Demy Reyno, and Air Force Staff Sergeant Roe Gem Perez.

The pilots were identified as Major Rolando Sacatani and Captain Alvin Alegata. - with reports from Aileen Intia, GMANews.TV
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