Thursday, January 28, 2010

Pinoy Soldiers Died in Haiti Earthquake

The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Wednesday set a new timetable for the return of the three of its personnel who died following a recent earthquake in Haiti where they were deployed on a peacekeeping mission, 

"Either over the weekend or early next week," Armed Forces public affairs office chief Lt. Col. Romeo Brawner told reporters in a press briefing at the military's general headquarters in Camp Aguinaldo on the return of the soldiers. 

The three – Navy Data Processor 3 Pearly Panangui, Army Sgt. Eustacio Bermudez and Air Force Sgt. Janice Arocena – were trapped at the Christopher Hotel, home of the UN in Haiti where they were doing clerical jobs. 

Another Filipino, UN civilian staff Jerome Yap, also died at the hotel. His body may be transported to US where his parents live. 

Brawner last week said that the three, escorted by Filipino peacekeepers led by Maj. Steve Ducusin, will arrive last Monday. On Tuesday, Brawner said the remains of the peacekeepers may arrive Manila today. 

Brawner said the bodies of the peacekeepers are still at the Dominican Republic where UN forensic experts are subjecting them to test. 

"They still have to undergo more forensic tests because forensic experts of the United Nations do not want to release the bodies just like that. They still have to have a 100 percent match between the body and the identity (of the soldiers)," said Brawner. 

Brawner said they have already sent initial fingerprint and dental records of the three to the UN. "Today, we are trying to get (more) records from the NBI..anything that would ascertain their identity" the official said. 

He said forensic examinations on peacekeepers, deployed under the UN, is normal. In one instance, it took a Filipino colonel - who died of malaria while on a peacekeeping mission in Liberia – four days before his body was transported to Philippines.

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