MANTICAO, Misamis Oriental – The body of Pvt. 1st Class Carlo Dapanas Jr., one of the 49 soldiers who died in the C-130 crash in Sulu, has arrived at his home in Barangay Tu-od here.
In a small room of the family house that also serves as worship area, relatives and friends will be with the 25-year-old soldier until his burial at the Manticao public cemetery on Saturday.
His brother, Pat. Melgazar Dapanas, said their family is hurting more because they could not see his brother for the last time.
They were told not to open the casket because Carlo was burned beyond recognition.
“He was trapped inside the C-130. It took longer to confirm which remains were his. Our DNA samples were collected to determine his body,” Melgazar said.
At first, their mother, Susan, was against Carlo entering the Philippine Army.
In 2016 or a year after Carlo asked her permission, she finally gave her blessings.
Carlo was assigned at the 26th Infantry Battalion in Agusan del Sur but volunteered to be transferred to Sulu.
“He chose to enter that kind of job. I just can’t help but cry. He was very young,” Susan said.
Melgazar, a member of the Regional Mobile Force Battalion 10, entered the Philippine National Police two years after Carlo joined the Army.
He was a graduate of an Education course and would have been a teacher if not for the influence of Carlo.
Despite what happened to his younger brother, Melgazar said he is neither discouraged nor scared.
“We took an oath to protect the public. We accepted the situation that when we leave our home, we might go home dead. But we always pray that we go home safe because we have a family waiting for us,” he said.
Emabel, Carlo’s wife, said they last talked a few minutes before the C-130 took off at Laguindingan Airport.
“He informed me they were in Laguindingan and were about to take their breakfast. His last words were take care and take care of our child but I was not able to respond anymore because the call was cut,” she recalled.
A day before the tragedy in Patikul on July 4, they were talking about their first wedding anniversary on August 10.
Carlo promised he will go home while she will cook his favorite pork adobo and fried shrimp.
For Carlo’s 26th birthday on October 8, she was planning a surprise celebration as it will be his first birthday since they got married.
Despite her husband’s death, she will still encourage their son to enter the Army as it was Carlo’s dream.
Deputy Speaker and Cagayan de Oro City 2nd District Rep. Rufus Rodriguez filed a resolution urging the House of Representatives to honor soldiers who died or were injured.
In a statement on Wednesday, Resolution No. 1957 stated soldiers should be honored as heroes because they were “on their way to Sulu to join the fight against terrorism”.
“They were to be deployed with the 11th Army Division in the province to be in the frontline in fighting the Abu Sayyaf kidnap-for-ransom group,” he said.
Four of the victims were from Cagayan de Oro.
In another resolution, Rodriguez asked his colleagues to likewise give recognition to Patikul residents, mostly Tausugs, who helped rescue and recover the dead and injured.
The Tausug villagers were doing their midday prayers when the crash jolted them.
“Almar Hajiraini Aki, a 12th grader at the Sulu National High School, said that he, together with some friends, rushed to the crash site and when they got there, they saw some soldiers sprawled on the ground, found some of them alive, and they were able to help three soldiers,” Rodriguez narrated.
Tausug militiamen also took at least 20 soldiers to safer grounds.
Citing testimonies from soldiers who survived, Rodriguez said they “saw civilians running toward them and dragged them out of the burning plane”. (PNA)