Gamboa weeps for badly-injured mistah; crash probe starts

Helicopter crashed
Investigators inspect the remains of PNP chief’s helicopter, after it crashed seconds after taking off in San Pedro, Laguna Thursday. AFP/DANTE PERALTA

HE is already fine and will return to work on Monday. However, Philippine National Police chief General Archie Francisco F. Gamboa, after regaining consciousness repeatedly cried on learning that his mistah, PNP Director for Intelligence Major Gen. Jose Ma. Victor DF Ramos was badly injured in last Thursday’s helicopter crash in San Pedro City in Laguna.

“I’m already OK and would seek hospital discharge today. However, I’m very sad about what happened to Joevic (Gamboa). He’s my BFF (Best Friend Forever),” the PNP chief told the Journal Group in his room at St. Luke’s Hospital in Bonifacio Global City early morning yesterday.

Gen. Gamboa recalled that shortly after takeoff, the chopper was enveloped by dusts and other particles causing it to move backward. “I even heard Joevic shouting at the pilot before the chopper crashed,” he said.

The PNP chief said he blacked out upon impact and had to be carried by officers from the PNP Highway Patrol Group.

Another survivor of the chopper crash, PNP spokesman Brigadier Gen. Bernard M. Banac also looked fine when he was visited by the Journal Group in the same hospital.

The Chief PNP and Banac will be back at work as soon as doctors recommend that they are ready for hospital discharge. Initially, there was suspicion that Banac’s spinal column could have been damaged as a result of the crash but an x-ray showed it was not.

Gen. Gamboa said that the first thing he would do once discharged from the hospital is to visit Ramos and another classmate from Philippine Military Academy ‘Sinagtala’ Class of 1986, PNP Director for Intelligence, Major Gen. Mariel M. Magaway.

Magaway’s condition has improved as of yesterday and he has been responding to treatment. However, Ramos, the youngest member of PMA Class 1986 in the PNP—he will be the last PMA Class 1986 member to retire in the PNP this coming November 25 –suffered the worse injuries last Thursday.

Seated at the left side of the helicopter’s last row, the 2-star general was pinned down by the chopper shortly after its left side hit the ground and suffered severe head, face and body injuries. The PNP leadership and the families of Ramos and Magaway are asking for prayers for their speedy and full recovery.

Probe underway

A Special Investigation Task Group composed of officers from the Philippine National Police, Philippine Air Force and the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines yesterday started their probe into last Thursday’s police helicopter crash.

The head of the SITG Bell 429, PNP Deputy Chief for Operations, Lieutenant General Guillermo Lorenzo T. Eleazar and his team conducted an ocular inspection of the crash site and the ill-fated chopper as their investigatiion began rolling yesterday morning.

Meanwhile PNP Deputy Chief for Administration, Lt. Gen. Camilo Pancratius P. Cascolan was named Officer-in-Charge of the PNP while Gen. Gamboa is in the hospital.

Major Gen. Benigno B. Durana Jr. was designated as OIC of the PNP Public Information Office vice Brigadier Gen. Bernard M. Banac who was also among the crash survivors.

On the other hand, Brig. Gen. Ronaldo E. Olay was named as OIC of the PNP Directorate for Comptrollership during the absence of PNP Comptroller, Major Gen. Jose Ma. Victor DF Ramos who was badly injured in the crash.

Brig. Gen. Jesus D. Cambay Jr. was designated as OIC of the PNP Directorate for Intelligence vice Maj. Gen. Mariel M. Magaway who is still recuperating from his injuries.

Initial findings showed that the helicopter crashed after an accidental contact with overhead power lines. However, investigators will look into the possibility it could be due to pilot error, or the chopper’s condition or the preparation at the takeoff site.

Solon’s question

A party-list congresswoman questioned why the chopper carrying General Gamboa took off without the thick dust in the area being cleared first.

“It was like flying with eyes closed. I wonder why they didn’t clean the area before taking off? Hindi ba SOP sa presidential chopper, binabasa ng mga bumbero ang lupa para hindi maging   maalikabok? Bakit hindi ito nagawa sa ating PNP Chief?” wondered House Assistant Majority Leader and ACT-CIS party-list Rep. Niña Taduran.

Taduran supported the investigation being handled by the PNP Special Investigation Task Group and prayed for the immediate recovery of the injured.

With Ryan Ponce Pacpaco