Pinoys on downed MH17 plane were 'chance passengers'

Posted at 07/21/2014 4:10 PM | Updated as of 07/22/2014 11:12 AM

MANILA – The Filipinos who boarded the ill-fated Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 were apparently ''chance passengers'', one of their relatives said.

Malen Pabellon, sister-in-law of MH17 fatality Irene Pabellon-Gunawan, said her sister-in-law and family were actually chance passengers of the Malaysian plane, which crashed on Ukraine's volatile eastern region last July 17 after being shot down.

Malen said Irene's husband, Indonesian Budy Janto Gunawan, insisted that he, Irene, and their two children, Sheryll Shania and Darryl Dwight, fly together.

''Nasa airport na ang kanilang bagahe pero nag-iintay pa sila [ng available flight]. Chance passengers sila. Ayaw pumayag ng mister na hindi sila sama-sama kasi kulang sa upuan,'' Malen told ABS-CBN's Umagang Kay Ganda.

The Gunawan family was en route to Manila via Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia when their plane was shot down while it was above eastern Ukraine. They were among the 298 people on board the plane who perished in the tragedy.

World leaders have called for a transparent investigation to determine which party was responsible for the downing of the plane.

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

Russia has denied any involvement in the incident.

Some members of the Pabellon family are set to fly to the Netherlands. They have been told that at least one of them may have to fly to Ukraine to personally identify the bodies of their loved ones.

Reluctant to fly to Ukraine and preferring that the bodies be brought to the Netherlands instead, the Pabellons said they are aware of the situation in Ukraine's eastern portion.