By Ben Rosario
A lawmaker and officials of the House of Representatives may have cheated death following a helicopter crash on Friday but the incident raised serious questions about the purpose of their use of the ill-fated military helicopter.
Deputy Minority Leader and Coop Natcco Rep. Anthony Bravo and former House Secretary General Cesar Strait Pareja were among the passengers of the aircraft that crash landed but fell in a ravine in Crow Valley, Tarlac on Friday.
On the other hand, Sen. Ralph Recto and still unidentified House members and Congress executives were aboard a separate chopper that made it safe to its destination.
It was gathered that the lawmakers were among the legislative branch officials who were invited by the Armed Forces of the Philippines to attend the Record Firing and Live Fire Demonstration set at Camp O”Donnel in Capas, Tarlac earlier that day.
A day earlier, the same group attended the Static Display of Air Assets event at the Air Force City at the Clark Airbase in Pampanga, it was learned.
Photographs of the marksmanship practice were posted on Facebook, reportedly lifted from Pareja’s posts.
Muntinlupa City Rep. Ruffy Biazon, senior vice chairman of the House Committee on National Defense, disclosed that the purpose of the trip was for the participants to test their marksmanship skills.
“What I know is that they had the Markmanship Record Firing. Members of Congress and Senate were invited to do the record firing for them to be rated on marksmanship,” Biazon said.
However, the administration solon stressed that members of the Congress contingent were “also (military) reservists.”
Meanwhile, Bravo expressed his gratitude to those who prayed and sent messages of concern for him after media reported the crash.
“I am well and completely safe following the incident, as well as most of my companions in the chopper. Please continue praying for the fast recovery of our pilot who was fatally injured,” he said.
Pareja also thanked those who prayed for him.
“The pilot suffered head injuries and the crew has a broken arm. I have minor scratches along with most of the passengers. The helicopter crashed just as we were about to land in Crow Valley,” he revealed on Friday.