Laguna chopper crash an accident -- Gamboa

Archie Francisco F. Gamboa

Philippine National Police chief General Archie Francisco F. Gamboa yesterday   ruled out “sabotage” in the helicopter crash in San Pedro City, Laguna.

Gamboa said initial findings showed that the chopper crashed when it got entangled with a power line shortly after takeoff.

“Of course, ‘yung sabotage, sinadya, I don’t believe so. Ako personally convinced ako, nandoon ako sa loob ng helicopter, nobody in his right mind, even what kind of interest he has in his mind would do that,” Gamboa told newsmen at Camp Crame.

“So, ang general term lang na aksidente, hindi ‘yun sinadya ng kahit sino naman doon sa involved.  Ako, I strongly believe na walang sabotahe doon,” Gamboa stressed.

The PNP chief flew to San Pedro City to visit the impounding area of the PNP Highway Patrol Group and remind his men that they have a very strict policy against the use of recovered stolen motor vehicles and the like.

The PNP chief returned to work yesterday asking the Filipino nation to join him in praying for the full recovery of his mistahs -- PNP Director for Comptrollership Major General Jose Ma. Victor DF Ramos and PNP Director for Intelligence Maj. Gen. Mariel M. Magaway, who were badly injured in the accident.

“It has been a long and most eventful week that we just went through and until this day we continue to cope with the aftermath of that unfortunate experience in San Pedro, Laguna,” said Gamboa, who was wearing a sling  after suffering a minor injury in the right shoulder.

“Save for myself, my aide-de-camp Captain Keventh Gayramara and the PNP spokesperson Brigadier General Bernard M. ,,,Banac, who have been discharged from hospital confinement, Police Major General Jose Ma. Victor Ramos, the Director for Comptrollership, and Police Major General Mariel Magaway, the Director for Intelligence, remain in critical condition from serious injuries sustained in that incident. We received latest reports though that their conditions are improving,” he said.

“I invite everyone to join us in fervent prayer for the continuous healing of my classmates MGen Ramos and MGen Magaway who remain under intensive care,” he added.  

The PNP chief also called on the media and the public to respect the privacy of the injured police generals who are now at the Intensive Care Unit of the Asian Hospital and Medical Center in Muntinlupa City.

“Much as we would like to respond to all your questions, I beg your kind indulgence that we may have to withhold our responses to the more sensitive matters that will break private dignity of suffering,” he said while deciding on the need to designate a medical officer to interpret the medical findings on the two.

Gamboa said the two helicopter pilots,   Lieutenant Colonel Zalatar and Lt. Col. Macawili, as well as crew Senior Master Sergeant Estona, are still undergoing further tests and medical procedures.

He added that Estona underwent surgery last Friday at the Southern Luzon Medical Center where he is confined.

However, the condition of the pilots and crew were described as “non-life threatening.”

Gamboa said  the debris of the ill-fated RP-3086 PNP helicopter have been cleared from the crash site and are now secured at the PNP hangar where it will undergo examination by the experts commissioned by SITG Bell 429 chaired by PNP Deputy Chief for Operations Lieutenant Gen. Guillermo Lorenzo T. Eleazar.

As a procedural measure, the entire PNP fleet of rotary-wing aircraft were grounded following that incident.

“We will take the cue from the initial findings of SITG Bell 429 to lift the flight restriction in consideration of the exigency of the service that requires air support,” Gamboa said.