PNP chief rules out sabotage in helicopter crash

MANILA. An investigator walks beside a police helicopter that crashed in San Pedro, Laguna, Thursday, March 5, 2020. (AP)

PHILIPPINE National Police (PNP) Chief Archie Gamboa on Monday, March 9, ruled out sabotage in the helicopter crash that injured him and left two of his “mistah” in critical condition.

Gamboa said he was supposed to be seated on the left side, where Director for Intelligence Mariel Magaway was seated. The pilot, however, told him to sit on the right side.

It was the left side that slammed to the ground when the helicopter fell after hitting some power lines. Major General Magaway and Major General Jose Victor Ramos, head of the Directorate for Comptrollership, were seated there.

They were both in critical condition. Gamboa said both are improving based on the latest report that he received.

“When the chief PNP rides the chopper he has the prepared seat pero alam nyo kung ano lang ang dahilan? Ayaw nya don sa mainit na side yun lang yun... that’s why whenever I ride the chopper, tatanungin ko na sa’n ako? Sabihin nya dito ka, dito ka... but primarily ang consideration do’n is yun nga kung saan hindi mainit, especially on long flights,“ he said.

Gamboa said it was purely an accident.

“Of course ‘yung sabotage, sinadya, I don't believe so. Ako personally convinced ako, nandun ako sa loob ng helicopter. Nobody in his right mind even what kind of interest he has in mind would do that,” he said in a press conference in Camp Crame.

“So that's why ang general term lang na aksidente is hindi yun sinadya nang kahit sino naman siguro doon sa involved even on ground preparation, on the chopper crew themselves, even the passengers. Ako I strongly believe na walang sabotahe doon,” he added.

It was the first time that Gamboa held a press conference following the crash at 7 a.m. Thursday morning, March 5, at the Laperal Compound in San Pedro, Laguna.

Gamboa, Magaway and Ramos along with PNP spokesperson Bernard Banac and Gamboa’s aide-de-camp Captain Kevin Gayramara (not Gayrama as identified by police earlier) were on their way to Camp Vicente Lim in Calamba for a command visit, after inspecting the impounding area of the Highway Patrol Group in San Pedro.

The twin-engine Bell 429 helicopter, a brand new rotorcraft acquired in 2018, was manned by two pilots and a crew member. It hit some power lines shortly after takeoff and crashed.

Gamboa, who sustained minor bruises on the face and in the arms, thanked those who prayed for him and his fellow police officials’ immediate recovery.

Ramos and Magaway, who sustained injuries in the head and in the spine, are under intensive care at the Asian Hospital in Muntinlupa City.

“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,” said Gamboa.

He declined to narrate what transpired before the crash happened, saying he would rather give his statement first to the Special Investigation Task Group (SITG) conducting investigation.

Lieutenant General Guillermo Eleazar, PNP deputy chief for operations and head of the SITG, said there were at least three angles that they were looking at: the zero visibility due to thick dust and debris in the landing zone, airworthiness of the helicopter and human error.

Brigadier General Banac, for his part, recounted what transpired before the crash.

“Nagho-hover ‘yung helicopter at nang zero visibility dahil ‘yung floor of dust ay nag envelope na ‘yung chopper at dahil wala namang visibility, walang reference point from there nakaramdam na ko ng something is not right parang nag banking sya so from there nag brace position na ko prepare for crash landing,” he said.

Banac sustained minor bruises on the face and arms. He is also experiencing back pains due to spinal column compression.

Gamboa and Gayramara underwent treatment at the St. Luke’s Medical Center and were discharged on Friday, March 6, while Banac was cleared on Saturday.

Meanwhile, Gamboa said he did not give the SITG a timeline for the conduct of investigation.

“I do not want to rush things because... Ito probably ‘yung pinaka grabe kaya ayoko sila bigyan deadline as a matter of fact it will involve a lot of government agencies, we tap Philippine Airforce, the Civil Aeronautics Authority of the Philippines, ‘yung CAAP probably Bell also, so I do not want to give deadlines for this investigation by SITG,” he said. (SunStar Philippines)


SunStar website welcomes friendly debate, but comments posted on this site do not necessarily reflect the views of the SunStar management and its affiliates. SunStar reserves the right to delete, reproduce or modify comments posted here without notice. Posts that are inappropriate will automatically be deleted.

Forum rules:

Do not use obscenity. Some words have been banned. Stick to the topic. Do not veer away from the discussion. Be coherent. Do not shout or use CAPITAL LETTERS!