President Rodrigo Duterte on Monday pledged assistance to the families of the military personnel who died following the fatal crash of the Philippine Air Force C-130 plane over the weekend and said he wanted to provide the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) with more benefits.

The C-130 plane crashed on July 4 in Patikul, Sulu and killed 49 of its 96 passengers and three civilians on the ground.

During his visit to the Western Mindanao Command in Zamboanga City, Duterte mourned the death of and honored the soldiers killed in the crash.

“To the officers and men of the AFP, this is a very sorrowful event and kung ano ‘yong nasa puso ninyo, ganoon rin ako,” he said.

“The life of a soldier is always valuable whether in the fields of fighting or events such as these.
They died for our country and, for that, I am very grateful to those who died and those who suffered and are still suffering now,” he added.

The president also vowed to provide assistance to the survivors and the bereaved families.

“I have said this before, nasabi ko na ito. We are still working at it. Pero gusto ko lang, bago ako maiwan, gusto kong maglagay ng malaking pera para sa AFP. Iyan lang ang mabawi ko sa sundalo ko lalo na ‘yong namatay, that their families will be protected, that their families will be comfortable at ‘yong daily living and education of the children will be assured,” Duterte said.

Duterte conferred the Order of Lapu-Lapu to the soldiers who were killed and survived the crash. John Ezekiel J. Hirro