DNA tests help identify soldiers’ remains in C-130 crash

CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY (MindaNews / 13 July) – Fifty-three-year-old Carlos Dapanas Sr. watched in silence as the military honor detail brought the white wooden casket of his son, Army Private Carlos Dapanas Jr., inside the gymnasium in Camp Evangelista here Monday.

Army honor details arrange the casket of one of the soldiers killed in the C-130 crash in Sulu last July 4 at the tarmac of the Lumbia military airbase in Cagayan de Oro City after it arrived from Zamboanga City on Monday (12 July 2021). MindaNews photo by FROILAN GALLARDO

His son was among the 87 Army soldiers from the 4th Infantry Division who boarded the ill-fated Philippine Air Force C-130 that crashed in Patikul, Sulu last July 4.

The body of the soldier was recognized only after a PNP SOCO team took a small swab tissue from his father in Tipanoy, Iligan City last Friday.

Last Sunday the PNP SOCO team informed the elder Dapanas that they found a match.

Five soldiers who were identified through the same DNA process were brought to Cagayan de Oro on board a Philippine Air Force C-295 medium transport plane.

This brought the number of soldiers who were brought here after being identified to 11.

Major Francisco Garello, spokesperson of the 4th Infantry Division, said they have resorted to DNA tests after some families of the crash victims expressed doubts of the identities.

“We have now resorted to the more reliable DNA test as well as the dental records for matching,” he said.

Garello said 20 remains have already been identified through DNA tests and dental records while 29 more bodies are still being processed.

Emabel Dapanas weeps over the casket of her husband, Army Private First Class Carlo Dapanas Jr., after it arrived at the gymnasium of the 4th Infantry Division in Cagayan de Oro City on Monday (12 July 2021). MindaNews photo by FROILAN GALLARDO

He said at least 47 survivors are recuperating in various hospitals in Zamboanga City.

Garello said 87 soldiers from the 4th Infantry Division boarded the plane in Laguindingan Airport for Patikul, Sulu last July 4.

Police Patrolman Melgazar Dapanas, younger brother Carlos Jr., had to be consoled by a colleague after he was filled with emotions while viewing the casket.

Carlos Jr.’s wife, Emabel, and their less than a year-old baby girl were also in tears.

Emabel and other relatives of the victims, however, cannot open the caskets as advised by the military because many were burned beyond recognition.

“I have to accept this no matter how painful it is for the sake of our child,” Emabel said. (Froilan Gallardo / MindaNews)