Kin of Pinoy MH17 fatalities reluctant to go to Ukraine

Posted at 07/21/2014 3:27 PM

MANILA – The relatives of the Filipino fatalities in the Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 crash are reluctant to fly to the crash site in a volatile region of Ukraine.

The Pabellon family, who is set to fly to the Netherlands, expressed reluctance when they were told that they may have to fly to eastern Ukraine.

However, the family was told that one of them may have to fly to strife-torn eastern European country to personally identify the bodies of their relatives.

The family said they prefer that the bodies of their loved ones, identified as Irene Pabellon Gunawan, and her two children, Sherryl Shania and Darryl Dwight, be brought to the Netherlands instead.

Irene's husband, Indonesian Budy Janto Gunawan, also died in the crash.

The Philippine Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA), meanwhile, said it will be able to process the passport of the members of the Pabellon family within the day.

The family will only be able to fly to the Netherlands upon the issuance of a visa. Malaysia Airlines has promised to assist the family in the trip.

The Pabellons said they are aware of the situation in Ukraine's eastern portion, where some Russian-backed separatist rebels are waging a war against the Western-backed government.

The US and Ukrainian governments believe the separatists were responsible for the shooting down of the plane using arms supplied by the Russian government.

Russia has denied any involvement in the shooting down of the airliner. Russian President Vladimir Putin urged the pro-Moscow rebels in eastern Ukraine to cooperate and insisted that an international investigation must not leap to conclusions.

Ukraine and its Western allies accuse Moscow of fueling a pro-Russian uprising that threatens to break up the former Soviet republic of 46 million people. Russia denies orchestrating the unrest and says Ukraine's attempts to end it by military force are making the situation worse.

251 bodies retrieved

Rescuers have already found 251 bodies and 86 fragments of bodies at the crash site of a Malaysian airliner and a second train with refrigerator wagons to take the remains away has arrived, a Ukrainian government committee said.

In a statement, the committee investigating the disaster said the first train where the remains of almost 200 victims have been placed before starting their journey home was stuck in the station in the town of Torez because "terrorists are blocking its exit"

UN resolution

Meanwhile, the United Nations Security Council is due to vote on a resolution that would condemn the downing of the Malaysian passenger plane in Ukraine and demands that those responsible be held accountable and that armed groups don't compromise the crash site integrity.

While Russia engaged in negotiations with the 15-member council on the resolution - drafted by Australia which lost 28 citizens - it was unclear if it would support the final version, said diplomats, speaking on condition of anonymity.

In an apparent bid to compromise with Moscow, the wording of the condemnation was change to characterize the incident as the "downing" of the Malaysia Airlines flight - with 298 people on board - instead of "shooting down," according to the final draft obtained by Reuters.

The draft UN resolution "demands that those responsible for this incident be held to account and that all states cooperate fully with efforts to establish accountability" and "calls on all states and actors in the region to cooperate fully in relation to the international investigation of the incident."

Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop and Dutch Foreign Minister Frans Timmermans are due to be at the United Nations for the vote on the resolution, said diplomats. The Netherlands lost 189 citizens on the flight to Kuala Lumpur from Amsterdam.

The draft resolution "expresses grave concern at reports of insufficient and limited access to the crash site."

It "demands that the armed groups in control of the crash site and the surrounding area refrain from any actions that may compromise the integrity of the crash site ... and immediately provide safe, secure, full and unrestricted access to the site and surrounding area for the appropriate investigating authorities."

International monitors from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe visited part of the crash site for a third day on Sunday. They said on Saturday that gunmen had stopped them approaching some of the wreckage.

The draft resolution also "insists that the bodies of the victims are treated in a dignified, respectful and professional manner and calls upon all parties concerned to ensure that this happens with immediate effect."

Television images of the rebel-held crash sites, where the remains of victims had lain decomposing in fields among their personal belongings, have turned initial shock and sorrow after Thursday's disaster into anger. The bodies had been removed from much of the crash site by Sunday.

The Security Council issued a statement on Friday calling for a "full, thorough and independent international investigation," access to the site and appropriate accountability. Britain drafted the text and hoped the council could issue it on Thursday but Russia requested more time.– report from Jeck Batallones, ABS-CBN News; with Reuters