CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY – The site where a UH-1H Huey helicopter crashed on Saturday afternoon in the southern province of Bukidnon is still off-limits to the public as a team from the Philippine Air Force (PAF) continues to investigate the cause of the incident.
In a telephone interview Saturday evening, Maj. Rodulfo Cordero Jr., spokesperson of the Army’s 4th Infantry Division, said the wreckage of the helicopter that crashed in the mountainous village of Barangay Bulonay in Impasug-ong town is now being guarded by soldiers from the 8th Infantry Battalion until experts from the PAF can complete their investigation.
He said the helicopter crashed probably due to a mechanical malfunction and not because of the weather condition.
Cordero said it was also unlikely shot down by the communist guerrillas as military helicopters usually fly at an altitude of about 800 meters beyond the range of assault rifles.
An M-16 rifle, for instance, has an effective range of only 460 meters, he added.
The military helicopter on a supply run to government troops fighting communist rebels crash landed in Impasug-ong town, killing seven Air Force and military personnel, report said.
Cordero said the helicopter came from the 403rd Infantry Brigade headquarters in Malaybalay City and was on its way to a remote army patrol base in Impasug-ong town near the Agusan del Sur boundary to bring provisions.
Cordero said there were actually two helicopters flying in convoy en route to their destination.
The helicopters belonged to the PAF’s 205th Tactical Helicopter Wing in Cebu, with the Tactical Operations Group-10 based in Barangay Lumbia, this city, as the controlling unit.
Cordero identified those who died in the crash as Lt. Col. Arnie Arroyo, pilot; 2nd Lt. Mark Anthony Caabay, co-pilot; Sgt. Mervin Bersabe; Airman 1st Class Stephen Agarrado; Sgt. Julius Salvado; Jerry Ayocdo; and Jhamel Sugalang.
Arroyo, Caabay, Bersabe and Agarrado are PAF personnel, Salvado is from the Army, and Ayocdo and Sugalang are members of the Army’s Cafgu Active Auxiliary.
Cordero said the bodies of those who died in the crash were recovered and brought to the 403rd camp in Malaybalay City. (PNA)