AFP deploys more ships, aircraft for search mission

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The Philippines sent more ships and aircraft to the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea) as it intensified its search for the Malaysia Airlines plane that vanished on Saturday.

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Presidential Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. said Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin ordered the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) to start patrols in the area in hopes of locating the missing airlner.

The AFP also deployed three of its modern vessels—the BRP Gregorio Del Pilar, BRP Emilio Jacinto and BRP Apolinario Mabini—as well as an F-27 plane to join the search.

“Since yesterday, according to Secretary Gazmin, the AFP has been coordinating with the defense attachés of Malaysia and Vietnam” in carrying out the search, Coloma said in a radio interview.

Lt. Gen. Roy Deveraturda, chief of the AFP’s Western Command, on Sunday said planes conducted nine hours of reconnaissance flights. Two planes, an islander and an F27 Fokker, and two Navy boats have not stopped combing the country’s waters for the missing plane.

A third plane and another vessel were standing by in case they would be needed.

“We’re doing this because there are no words yet confirming that the plane has already been found. While the probability is very slim, who knows [we might find it]. It has not yet been found that’s why we are participating in the search,” Deveraturda said.

The search is limited to Philippine air space and territorial waters, or within the country’s 220-mile exclusive economic zone.

WITH WILLIAM B. DEPASUPIL

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