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20 MARCH 2007
UN IDENTIFIES REMAINS OF 2 FILIPINOS KILLED IN 1999 ANGOLA CRASH
NEW YORK—Two of three Filipinos who perished when two United Nations aircraft were shot down over Angola eight years ago have been positively identified, the Philippine Mission to the United Nations reported today.
In his report to Foreign Affairs Secretary Alberto G. Romulo, Ambassador Hilario G. Davide, Jr., Permanent Representative to the United Nations, identified the two Filipinos as Ramon Dumlao and Bernabe Vicarme, both crewmembers of one of the two UN C-130 transport aircraft that went down in Angola during the height of that country’s civil war.
The UN Department of Peacekeeping Operations (DPKO) informed the Philippine Mission that forensics experts in South Africa were able to positively identify Mr. Dumlao and Mr. Vicarme from among the remains gathered from the crash sites based on the DNA samples provided by their next of kin in the Philippines.
The other Filipino victim, Benjamin Montefalcon, who was a crewmember of the other UN C-130 aircraft, has still not been identified.
Ambassador Davide said Dr. Christen Halle, project manager of the DPKO’s Angola Recovery Project, will bring the remains of Mr. Vicarme and Mr. Dumlao to Manila next week for a formal turnover to their families. He said UN officials have assured the Philippine Mission that every effort will be undertaken to identify and repatriate the remains of Mr. Montefalcon.
The three Filipinos were employees of Transafrik, a South African aircraft leasing company contracted by the UN World Food Program to deliver food supplies to some 100,000 refugees who fled to Huambo, Angola’s second largest city located 500 kilometers from the capital, Luanda, to escape the fighting between government and rebel forces.
The Philippine Mission said Mr. Montefalcon was the first fatality among the three Filipinos. He was among four crewmembers and 10 passengers of UN-806 that was shot down by a surface-to-air missile on 26 December 1998. Mr. Dumlao and Mr. Vicarme were among four crewmembers and five passengers of UN-806A that was shot down by anti-aircraft artillery in the same area a week later.
The identification of the remains and their turnover next week will bring to a close a five-month effort that started in October with the request of the DPKO for the assistance of the Philippine Government in locating the next of kin of the three Filipino crash victims.
In January, the families, which were located in Manila, Cebu and Pangasinan, were asked to submit DNA samples to the DPKO. The samples were then tested against the human bone fragments that were retrieved after the crashes and those collected by the DPKO during a second sweep of the crash sites in December. ###
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