MANILA – Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles on Tuesday said government will be using its own aircraft assets to ferry medical supplies across the country to combat the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) outbreak.
Nograles made this comment after a Lionair Westwind 24 aircraft bound for Haneda, Japan for a medical evacuation mission exploded while taking off at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport on Sunday night.
“Yung air assets ng ating gobyerno yung primarily na gagamitin natin sa pag-di-distribute ng mga kinakailangan sa iba’t ibang lugar ng a, yun po ting bansa (The air assets of the government is what we will primarily utilize in distributing what is needed in different parts of the country),” he in a virtual press conference.
He, however, said government will also coordinate with partners in the private sector to also provide aircraft if needed.
“When it comes to the air assets, gagamitin natin yung air assets ng gobyerno at sa private sector ay nakikipag ugnayan din tayo para maari din tayo gumamit ng air assets sa private sector (we will use the assets of the government and we will also coordinate with the private sector so that we could also use their air assets),” he said.
Nograles also expressed his condolences and offered prayers to the families of the eight victims who died in the plane explosion.
The victims were identified as Captain Ren Edward Nevada, Captain Melvin Bruel de Castro, Captain Mario Medina, Jael Edmark Agravante, Dr. Cenover Nicarono Bautista, Tomelda Conrado, John Richard Hurst, and Marilyn Vergara de Jesus.
The same plane was used to deliver medical supplies for front-line health workers in Iloilo on Saturday, according to the Manila International Airport Authority (MIAA).
Lionair volunteered its planes to ferry medical supplies across the county in the government’s fight against Covid-19.
The Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP) earlier deemed the plane “airworthy” while the pilots’ licenses were “current.”
However, CAAP has grounded the entire fleet of Lionair Inc. pending investigation on the accident.
Lionair was also the operator of the plane that crashed in Calamba City, Laguna last September, which killed all nine people onboard. (PNA)