Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Two-seater RPC-824 light cargo plane crashed

The co-pilot of the two-seater RPC-824 light cargo plane which crashed last Saturday in Dona Soledad Subdivision in Barangay Don Bosco, Paranaque City, Metro Manila, hailed from Iloilo.

Classmates of the victim First Officer Jessie Kim Lustica gravely mourned his untimely demise after the cargo plane crashed that also killed 14 persons.

In an interview over a local radio station here, Shane Dela Llana, former classmate of Lustica at the Iloilo National High School, said the victim will always remain in their heart as Captain Lustica.

Dela Llana described the pilot during their high school days as a silent and well-behaved fellow. He excelled in Mathematics, thus he aspired to become a pilot which he successfully achieved as a career at the young age of 22.

The victim's mom Mrs. Alicia Lustica, Regional Technical Director for Ecosystems Research and Development Service of Department of Environment and Natural Resources Region VI, has recently left Pavia, Iloilo for Metro Manila in connection with her son's death.

Meanwhile, Department of Transportation and Communication (DoTC) Secretary Mar Roxas ordered the operation of the Beechcraft Queen Air, which operate the light plane, suspended.

Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP) Air Accident Investigation Board Capt. Amado Soliman said they would also be checking the records of the aircraft and the pilots, as well.

Apart from those killed, some 100 individuals have been affected by the incident after their houses were burned as an aftermath of the plane's explosion.

Explosives in Antique, Philippines

An improvised explosive device or land mine was recovered by the military and police authorities in the scene of the encounter between government forces and New People's Army (NPA) rebels in Sitio Binancio, Barangay Alingalan, San Remegio, Antique.

San Remegio Mayor Glen Cabigunda said the explosive device was recovered after the San Remegio PNP and military authorities conducted a thorough inspection of the area after a squad of army soldiers were ambushed in Barangay Alingalan last Friday.

The police and military authorities could not determine if the recovered landmine was part of the NPA's armory meant for the mayor or the patrolling squad of army soldiers.

The ambush resulted to the killing of Cpl. Absalon Labitan, deputy commander of the army detachment in Alingalan and two militiamen identified as Julie Wayang y Estimo, 36 years old and Vivencio Mutha y Gabriel, 31 years old, both residents of Barangay Alingalan.

The squad of army soldiers from the 82nd Infantry Battalion, led by Labitan, was conducting foot patrol operation in the hinterlands of Alingalan when fired upon by the rebel insurgents using M203 grenade that pinned down the three government troopers to death.

Reinforcement troops from the 82IB's Charlie Company immediately conducted hot pursuit operation and scoured the hinterlands of Alingalan but they went home empty handed as the enemy had fled.

Manila-Albay Train

Albayanos welcome the reopening of the Philippine National Railways (PNR) Manila-Albay train connection which is seen as another booster for Albay's strengthening economy and tourism industry.

Local folks celebrated and expressed joy at hearing the familiar hoot and clatter of the train's inaugural trip here. To them, its hoot and clanking sounds are synonymous with business bustle. The old PNR train service to Albay was decommission by a strong typhoon five years ago.

PNR had its 'Explorer Run' from Tutuban in Manila to this town last week. Named Mayon Limited, it was designed to test the newly reconstructed railroad tracks and start the train's regular Manila-Bicol run. It ferried an explorer party of 51 persons led by Albay Gov. Joey Salceda and PNR General Manager Junio Ragrario.

Salceda, who helped in 'reconnecting' Albay with the railways network, said Mayon Limited brings back the glory days of the old Bicol Express and offers an alternative, safe and cheaper mode of transport. Albayanos have closely identified with the PNR trains.

The governor, who hails from Polangui, said he himself had traveled via the old PNR trains many times when he was still studying in Manila because it was fast, cheap and safe, and his parents had used it to send him his monthly allowance through friends and kin working at PNR.

Salceda said the resumption of the PNR trips will compliment and boost the now busy modes of transportation serving Albay, the four daily airplane flights to and from Manila and the numerous bus companies servicing the Manila – Albay route daily.

Legazpi City, Albay's provincial capital, is the regional center of the Bicol Region, hence its demand for varied transport systems.

Salceda, who also chairs the Bicol Regional Development Council, has initiated various projects to boost the transport sector.

Among such projects are the P3.4-billion Bicol International Airport in Alobo, Daraga town which is now under construction; and the RoRo service in nearby Pioduran town which is considered as Luzon's gateway to the Vizayas.

These projects are sure to spur more economic activities and contribute to business and tourism growth in Albay, he stressed.

PNR's Mayon Limited, a name suggested by Salceda himself, uses newly refurbished Japan-made train coaches, three of which are air-conditioned and can accommodate 81 passengers in reclining and movable cushioned seats. It could navigate the railroad tracks at a maximum speed of 110 kph.

Gov. Salceda said Mayon Limited will initially service the Tutuban-Polangui stretch and later up to Ligao City and Legazpi City by the first quarter of 2012.