An OV-10A Bronco from the Philippine Air Force crashed in Paumbong town in Bulacan province at about 9:00 am local time on the morning of January 24, 2006. The aircraft's co-pilot, Capt. James Acosta, 35, was able to eject successfully and was taken to Villamor Air Base Hospital to recover. Unfortunately, the pilot, Capt. Aniano Amatong, 31, was killed in the crash.
The Bronco took off from Danilo Atienza Airfield in Sangley Air Base in Cavite City at 8:46 am. The Bronco was headed to the former Clark AFB, Pampanga, to participate in a joint training exercise with the U.S. Joint Special Operations Task Force, said PAF spokesman Lt.Col. Restituto Padilla Jr. The Bronco crew's participation in the exercises, known as "Balance Piston", was to undergo training in low-level air delivery at Clark Field.
Capt. Acosta told investigators that they began to experience a problem with the left engine, causing them to lose altitude. They decided to eject at 2,000 ft. but Capt. Amatong decided that the plane might hit a populated area, and stayed with the aircraft. A PAF statement cited Capt. Amatong for "heroism of the highest order" in steering the plane into the middle of a fishpond in the island village of Barangay Binakod, in Paumbong town, Bulacan province. The PAF said that eyewitness accounts confirmed Capt. Acosta's account of the incident.
PAF spokesman Lt. Col. Restituto Padilla Jr. said that Air Force chief Lt. Gen. Jose Reyes had ordered the grounding of the remaining Bronco fleet (about 12-14 aircraft) pending the results of an investigation into the cause of the accident, an action which is standard procedure after a serious incident or crash.
The PAF's Broncos were acquired from the U.S. and later, some were transferred from Thailand's now-defunct OV-10 squadrons. The OV-10 is now the Philippine's main combat aircraft since the decommissioning of the F-5 fighter fleet in October 2005. The PAF uses the OV-10 for close air support, aerial reconnaissance, cloud seeding, and has recently used the Bronco to bomb Islamic terrorist hideouts in the Mindanao area.
Crash Leads to Lawsuits
Reportedly, the Philippine Air Force has offered to pay P150,000 (about $2,850 US) to cover the damages incurred in the crash... but that's not nearly enough, say those who were affected. In early February 2006, the municipal government of the town of Paombong filed a lawsuit against the PAF. The town seeks to recover over P10 million (about $189,970 US) from the Air Force for damages to Mrs. Luzviminda Isidro's fishpond, local waterways, and the local environment which they say were harmed by the crash, largely due to jet fuel contamination. They say that it will cost at least that much to decontaminate the fishpond (which is used by many local fishermen) as well as nearby rivers and other areas.
The Manila Times quoted Paombong's mayor, Donato Marcos, as saying "The fishpond of Mrs. Isidro is severely damaged... we must also consider the fact that the fisher folk's livelihood has been affected due to the jet fuel oil spill."
Mrs. Isidro has filed a separate lawsuit against the PAF for P3.5 million (about $66,490 US) to cover her fishpond damage, including costs for draining it completely to allow rescuers to reach the wreckage. She said, "We already lost at least P2.5 million [about $47,492 US] because our operations stopped, and we need to spend at least P1 million [about $18,997 US] for the cleaning and detoxification of the ponds." She showed the media an itemized list of the various damages which were submitted to the PAF.