D-3 plane crash in 1982 kills 3, injures 26 Japs

On July 7, 2021, the Philippine Daily Inquirer reported that Army spokesperson Col. Ramon Zagala said only 19 soldiers have been identified out of 50 soldiers killed in the recent C-130 plane crash in Sulu.

The ill-fated newly acquired Philippine Air Force C-130 plane was carrying 96 military personnel, mostly new Army recruits being deployed for combat against terrorism in the southernmost part of the Philippines. The incident resulted in the loss of at least 53 lives, 50 of whom are soldiers and the rest are civilians.

The most tragic plane crash in Capiz’s history took place in Mt. Opao, Barangay San Silvestre, Pilar, Capiz on February 9, 1982.

Associated Press reported that the twin-engine and propeller-driven DC-3 plane, owned by Trans Air and charted by Sicogon Island Corporation, was carrying Japanese tourists to Sicogon Island. The said plane crashed into a cloud-shrouded mountain at about 11:00 in the morning about two hours after taking off from Manila.

Sicogon was then an exclusive resort that offers windsurfing, scuba diving, and mountain climbing. According to Edmund Sarroza, the vice president of Sicogon Island Development Corp., the other chartered plane was able to land safely.

Furthermore, United Press International reported that the plane crash resulted in the demise of three Filipino crew and injured most of the 26 Japanese women tourist passengers who were secretaries from Tokyo.

A Japanese woman and a Filipino who were seriously injured were confined at Bailan District Hospital and a C-130 was dispatch to pick up the remaining survivors. Most of the passengers suffered a certain degree of injuries ranging from broken ribs and fractures.

According to Edmund Sarroza, the plane was already descending towards Sicogon Island but the crew encountered zero visibility and the next thing they saw was the 500-meter mountain. They crashed on banana trees and other vegetation in the area. The only other major incident was the cockpit that caught fire.

The Japanese Embassy identified one of the injured as Mitsuko Kuriya and, consequently, two Japanese officials flew to Roxas City to attend to the medical needs and repatriation of their countrymen.

Aside from these incidents, two other known plane crashes took place in the Province of Capiz.

On April 26, 1987, a Curtiss C-46 Commando, a cargo plane operated by Orient Air System & Integrated Services, few minutes after takeoff from Roxas City Airport, encountered indeterminate engine problems and lost control that it crashed in Sibuyan Sea, about 22 km off the north coast of Panay Island. Unfortunately, both pilots were killed.

Lastly, Convair T-29 cargo plane, operated by Commercial Air Transport, crashed upon landing on June 4, 1978. After a touchdown at Roxas City Airport, the airplane encountered difficulties to stop and overran. It lost its undercarriage and came to a halt. Fortunately, both pilots were uninjured.

While we are waiting for the results of the investigations of the C-130 plane crash to ascertain the cause of the incident, our confidence in our Filipino aviators should not wane. Let us remember how our Filipino pilots Capt. Jesus Villamor, Lieutenants Godofredo Juliano, Geronimo Aclan, Alberto Aranzaso, and Jose Gozar humiliated the Japanese and their cutting-edge Mitsubishi A6M Zero with outdated Boeing P-26 Peashooters during the Second World War.

Let us not forget how we make fortune out of American junks during the Vietnam war particularly the Hueys helicopters which were heavily depended upon and utilized both for internal security and humanitarian response.*