President Rodrigo Roa Duterte renders a salute to a fallen hero as he pays tribute to the soldiers who died during the C130 plane mishap in Sulu, during the wake at the Naval Forces for Western Mindanao Covered Court, Western Mindanao Command in Zamboanga City on July 5, 2021. (MNS photo)

MANILA, July 6 (Mabuhay) — President Rodrigo Duterte on Monday assured the families of soldiers killed and injured in the recent Philippine Air Force (PAF) C-130 plane crash that their sacrifices will not go in vain.

Duterte made this assurance during his visit to the AFP Western Mindanao Command (WESMINCOM) gymnasium in Zamboanga City to honor casualties in the military plane crash in Patikul, Sulu on Sunday.

“The life of a soldier is always valuable, whether in the fields of fighting or events such as this. They died for our country and for that I am very grateful to those who died and those who helped,” he said in his speech.

He said the national government would provide protection and assistance to the fallen soldiers’ families, including expenses for their daily living and tuition to fund their children’s education.

“The most important thing is that itong namatay (those who have died)…they shall not have died in vain. They died for our country and it behooves upon us to continue the help when they were allowed as they are now in heaven,” he added.

Duterte also vowed to provide a bigger budget for the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP).

“This I promise you soldiers, I have said this before, we are still working on it, pero gusto ko maglagay ng malaking pera para sa (but I want a bigger budget for the) Armed Forces of the Philippines,” he said.

He cut short his speech, saying he was “at a loss of words” and did not want to end up weeping.

“I am as sorrowful as you and as commander-in-chief, ako yung pinaka nasasaktan (I am the most hurt). I am at a loss of words,” he said.

Meanwhile, Duterte also visited the Camp Navarro General Hospital (CNGH) also in Zamboanga City to award the Order of Lapu-Lapu with the Rank of Kampilan to injured soldiers.

He later proceeded to the Naval Forces for Western Mindanao (NAVFORWEM) to lead the symbolic Conferment of the Order of Lapu-Lapu with the Rank of Kalasag to the fallen soldiers.

By virtue of Executive Order (EO) No. 35 signed on 28 July 2017, the Order of Lapu-Lapu Kampilan and Kalasag medals are awarded to officials and personnel of the government, as well as private individuals, who were seriously wounded or suffered great loss of property and to those who lost their lives, in the pursuit of the President’s campaign or advocacy.

Reports from the AFP showed that C-130 plane carrying nearly a hundred passengers was set to transport troops from Cagayan de Oro City to Sulu when the pilots failed to regain power and missed the runway.

Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said the death toll from the mishap has climbed to 52 with the addition of two military fatalities. Previously, only 47 soldiers and three civilians were reported dead. (MNS)

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