DA mourns death of employees in Vizcaya crash

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Wednesday, April 30, 2014

THE Department of Agriculture mourns the death of two employees who perished in the plane crash over Nueva Viscaya farmlands while on official cloud seeding duties early this week.

"We lost two of our most competent and committed co-employees from the Bureau of Soils and Water Management (BSWM) in a plane crash as they were conducting a cloud seeding sortie over a watershed in Bagabag, Nueva Vizcaya to induce rain for Magat Dam," DA spokesperson Undersecretary Emerson Palad in a statement said.

The six-seater Beechcraft Baron jet carrying BSWM employees Leilani Naga and Engineer Melvin Simangan, pilot Philip Jubane and aircrew Christopher Evan Borja, were flying over Barangay Tayapa in Bagabag around 2:50 p.m. Sunday afternoon, when their aircraft exploded mid-air, causing it to drop rapidly and crash in a corn field.


“We honor Lei and Melvin for their dedicated service to the Filipino people. Lei and Melvin died as they performed their duty on a Sunday -- a demonstration of great commitment to their work and to the farmers they took pride in serving,” Palad said.

The plane owned by Grand Aviators Aviation Corp. took off from Cauyan Airport in Isabela and was on the last of its five sorties when the incident happened.

“In this very sorrowful moment, the entire DA family led by Secretary Alcala expresses its sincerest sympathy and prayers to the family of Lei and Melvin. They are being assisted in whatever way we can to helping ease the sadness and difficulties this tragedy caused them,” Palad added.

DA officials immediately went to Nueva Vizcaya upon being notified of the incident.

The remains of the two DA employees were flown back to Manila while vigil and necrological services at the BSWM Lopez Hall in Quezon City is being prepared for them.

“Our thoughts and prayers are also with the families of the aircrew who lost their lives in the crash,” Palad continued.

The Department is in close coordination with the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines as the investigation is ongoing to determine the cause of the accident.

Palad said a review of the safety protocols in cloud seeding operations is in order to prevent similar incidents from occurring again.

Published in the Sun.Star Baguio newspaper on May 01, 2014.

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