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28 March 2007
2 FILIPINO VICTIMS OF 1999 ANGOLA PLANE CRASH FINALLY HOME
NEW YORK—The remains of two Filipinos who perished in Angola eight years ago when the United Nations aircraft they were flying was shot down while delivering food to refugees will finally be brought home, the Philippine Mission to the United Nations said.
The remains of Mr. Ramon Dumlao and Mr. Bernabe Vicarme, the pilot and loadmaster of UN-806A, the ill-fated C-130 transport aircraft, are expected to arrive from South Africa on Wednesday, 28 March, according to Ambassador Hilario G. Davide Jr., the Permanent Representative of the Philippines to the United Nations.
In his report to Foreign Affairs Secretary Alberto G. Romulo, Ambassador Davide said the bone remains of Mr. Dumlao and Mr. Vicarme will be turned over to their families in ceremonies at the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) on Thursday, 29 March.
Dr. Christen Halle, an official of the UN Department of Peacekeeping Operations (DPKO) in New York, escorted the remains to Manila. Dr. Halle is in charge of the Angola Recovery Project that was established by the DPKO to retrieve, identify and repatriate the remains of the 23 passengers and crew of the two UN aircraft that were shot down at the height of the Angolan civil war.
The remains of Mr. Dumlao and Mr. Vicarme were repatriated two weeks after South African forensics experts identified these from DNA samples provided by their families. The remains of a third Filipino, Mr. Benjamin Montefalcon, loadmaster of UN806, have still not been identified.
Ambassador Davide said Mr. Dumlao and Mr. Vicarme were among six individuals from five countries that have been identified since DNA tests were conducted last month against the bone fragments that were recovered from the two crash sites in Angola. The other four crash victims were from South Africa, Namibia, Zambia and Bolivia.
“This is statistically more than we hoped for,” Dr. Halle told the Philippine Mission after the remains of Mr. Dumlao and Mr. Vicarme were identified. He said they will do everything possible to identify and bring home the remains of Mr. Montefalcon.
The Philippine Mission has learned that Mr. Dumlao was a commercial pilot with Air Manila and Philippine Airlines while Mr. Vicarme and Mr. Montefalcon were from the Philippine Air Force.
The three 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 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 by the DFA 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 last December. ###
ELMER G. CATO Second Secretary & Press Officer Philippine Mission to the United Nations 556 Fifth Avenue, Fifth Floor New York, New York 10036 Tel. No. 212.764.1300 Extension 38
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