Australian deputy PM ‘saddened’ by killing of rescue soldiers in Albay
MANILA, Philippines — Australian Deputy Prime Minister Richard Marles expressed “deep sadness” for the two killed soldiers who were part of the search and rescue trying to find the four people — two of them Australians — aboard a crashed Cessna plane in Albay.
“We are really grateful for the efforts that Filipino servicemen have undertaken in responding to this, and we are deeply saddened by the tragic loss of two of their lives in those efforts,” Marles, who is also defense minister, said.
Marles, who was on an official visit to the Philippines, was speaking in a joint press conference in Camp Aguinaldo in Quezon City with Undersecretary Carlito Galvez, the office in charge of the Department of National Defense.
Marles expressed his gratitude to the rescue efforts for the missing plane, which was spotted on Sunday in the upper part of Barangay Quirangay also in Camalig.
“We want to express our gratitude for all that has been done in the aftermath of that accident but also to extend our condolences to those who have tragically lost their lives. In the midst of this tragedy, it is a moment where the really personal nature of the relationship between our two countries is very manifest and felt very profoundly,” Marles said.
Everyone on the plane remains missing — pilot Rufino James Crisostomo Jr. and crewman Joel Martin and Australian passengers Simon Chipperfield and Karthi Santanan — and the search and rescue operations for them continue.
On Monday, the two soldiers, Pvt. John Paul Adalim and Pvt. Mark June Esico, went to the market in Barangay Cotmon in Camalig town in Albay, to buy supplies for the search and rescue operation for the crashed Cessna.
Three armed members of the New People’s Army (NPA) opened fire on them, killing them on the spot, according to the Philippine Army.
The spokesperson of the Communist Party of the Philippines, Marco Valbuena, admitted the NPA was responsible for the attack, calling it “a legitimate military operation.”
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