Navy recognizes accidental hero of Cebu Pac 5J-971

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Certainly, he was terrified, said Navy Ensign Marlon Bo when the Cebu Pacific flight 5J-971 overshot the runway at Davao City Airport.

“I was afraid but in the Navy, we are told that it is not the absence of fear but it is how you control your fear,” said Bo, 31, who had taken the Cebu Pacific flight on a business trip to Davao City last June 2.

After the initial shock, Bo had his emotions under control. In the midst of the darkness and panicked screams, his calm strength helped the 160 other passengers of the crippled jet cope with their fear.

On Friday, the Naval Reserve Command recognized Bo for his leadership and bravery by awarding him a Military Commendation Medal in ceremonies at the Naval Reserve Command (Navrescom) headquarters in Intramuros, Manila.

“The able leadership and actions of Ensign Bo earned the admiration of the Filipino people which is worthy of emulation by all. By these achievements, Ensign Bo earned distinct credits not only for himself and the Philippine Navy but also for the Armed Forces of the Philippines, which is in keeping with the finest traditions of military service,” the Navy said in a statement yesterday.

Navrescom Commander, Capt. Primitivo Gopo, pinned the medal on Bo, his first after being a Navy reservist for the past 10 years.

Bo said he has not been actively involved with the reserve command because he was busy with work. He used to be a ship chief engineer and now works as a freelance consultant for local and international shipping companies.

Married with a year-old son, Bo is a graduate of the Philippine Merchant Marine Association, which also feted him Friday.

The story of Bo’s bravery came to light after one of the passengers of the stricken plane, Davao businessman Nino Alinsub, wrote an account of the near-crash.

Alinsub said that it was one of the passengers whom he identified as “Capt. Bok from the Philippine Navy” who took the initiative to organize the passengers amid the chaos after the plane’s crew failed to react quickly to the incident.

“He knew what he was doing and he was in control when even the cabin crew looked like they were really at a loss on what to do. Capt. Bok gave clear instructions for everyone to sit down so that we could leave row by row to prevent the plane from tilting over. He was the clear definition of a ‘guiding voice,’” Alinsub had written.

Alinsub may have misheard Bo’s last name as “Bok.”

Bo said the crisis and crowd management classes that he had taken had equipped him with the skills to help the passengers when no one from the plane’s crew had stepped up.

Bo said he now intends to be more active as a Navy reservist.

“After this appreciation by the Navy I will sign up now for active duty training and be involved with the Red Cross,” he said.

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