Almost six months after the crash, the search for the remains of the missing Philippine Air Force (PAF) student pilot of the ill-fated trainer plan SF260TP is finally over.
Air Force spokesman Col. Miguel Ernesto Okol on Sunday said that the body of 1Lt. Michael Arugay, still clad in his flight suit, was discovered on November 3 by local fishermen off the coast of Mariveles, Bataan.
Arugay's identity, he added, was confirmed by a team from the 15th Strike Wing which was dispatched to the area to provide security and retrieve the remains from the Philippine National Police Maritime Compound in the said coastal town.
"Full military honors will be accorded to the late 1Lt. Michael Arugay as well as the processing of necessary benefits for his next of kin. The discovery of his body puts to a close the tragic end of the ill-fated flight but rest assured we will learn from it and ensure that it will not happen again," Okol said.
The SF260 trainer plane manned by Maj. Neil Tumaneng, the pilot, and Arugay went missing on May 18 while on a routine proficiency flight from Sangley Point in Cavite to Corregidor Island in Bataan.
Tumaneng's body was recovered on August 19 from the waters of La Monja Island, located between Corregidor and Mariveles, Bataan.
The wreckage of the plane was found on September 8 on the seabed at a depth of about 80 feet.
The SF-260 is a light aircraft marketed as an aerobatics plane and a military trainer.
Aside from being a trainer plane, the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) also arms the SF-260 for close-support roles.
The AFP has some 30 to 40 of said planes that it used for training and light attack missions.
In April last year, a PAF S-211 trainer plane also crashed in Bataan moments after it took off from Clark Air Base.
In July 2010, an S-211 plane likewise crashed while in a training exercise in Concepcion, Tarlac but the two pilots survived.
On Feb. 25, 2010, an OV-10 Bronco plane also crashed in Capas, Tarlac, killing the two pilots on the spot.