24 Februari 2011
PAF C-130 Hercules (photo : Manilaboy40 - Timawa)
MANILA, Philippines - The Philippine Air Force on Wednesday said its lone C-130 transport plane has been placed on standby in case it would be needed for the evacuation of overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) in strife-torn Libya.
“The Philippine Air Force has committed to provide our beloved C-130 as one of the contingency plan [actions] to fly, if required by competent authorities,” announced Armed Forces’ spokesman Brig. Gen. Jose Mabanta in a briefing in Camp Aguinaldo.
The military transport, which can carry 100 passengers, can immediately be dispatched to Libya should the government require it for the repatriation of Filipinos, said Mabanta.
“The Philippine Air Force is ready to provide C-130. Remember that the C-130 has been used extensively in the past [repatriation]. It [violence] has not escalated so we will just have to wait for competent authorities to provide us authorization to fly our C-130,” said Mabanta.
The military spokesman said that an order for the transport plane’s deployment would come from President Benigno Aquino III: “The DFA [Department of Foreign Affairs] will be recommending to be approved by the commander-in-chief.”
Foreign Affairs Undersecretary Esteban Conejos said President Aquino has ordered the DFA and other relevant government agencies to pool their resources for the evacuation plan.
He added that the DFA was given strict instructions to use air, sea and land routes out of Libya during the evacuation.
Conejos reported that the Department of Labor and Employment has started meeting with airline officials in preparation for the massive evacuation.
He said they have already talked to Qatar Airways and the Philippine Airlines. He added that the DFA has asked the International Organization for Migration for help in the possible evacuation of the OFWs.
"We are going to deploy them and the instruction is to be ready to employ these modalities in the events the occasion calls for it," Conejos said.