PNP Chief, 3 generals survive helicopter crash

Published March 5, 2020, 12:00 AM

by manilabulletin_admin

By Aaron Recuenco

Gen. Archie Francisco Gamboa, chief of the Philippine National Police (PNP), and seven other policemen that include three generals, were injured when the helicopter they were riding crashed in San Pedro, Laguna on Thursday morning.


Lt. Gen. Guillermo Eleazar, PNP deputy chief for Operations, said Gamboa and the rest of the policemen on board suffered minor injuries and were immediately taken to the two nearest hospitals—the Westlake Medical Center and South Woods Hospital.

“We are thankful that our Chief PNP is okay. He was transported to a hospital here in Metro Manila,” said Eleazar.

“All the other police officers are now receiving sufficient medical attention,” he added.

Aside from Gamboa, Eleazar identified the other police officials on board as Maj. Gen. Mariel Magaway, head of the Directorate for Intelligence; Maj. Gen. Jose Ma. Victor Ramos, head of the Directorate for Comptrollership; and, Brig. Gen. Bernard Banac, PNP spokesman.

Also on board were Gamboa’s aide de camp Capt. Kevin Gayrama, pilot Lt. Col. Ruel Salazar, his co-pilot Lt. Col. Rico Macawili, and chopper crew Senior Master Sgt. Louie Estona.

Lt. Col. Serafin Petalio II, director of the Laguna Provincial Police Office, said Gamboa suffered abrasion on his right shoulder as a result of the crash.

“He is okay, he was conscious and he only suffered abrasion on the shoulder due to the impact of the crash,” said Petalio in a phone interview.

Capt. Rannie Estilles, of the Highway Patrol Group (HPG) who was among those who first responded, said it was Gamboa who was first to be pulled out by responding policemen and medical personnel when the chopper touched the ground.

Gamboa, it was learned, was seated at the right side of the chopper and was conscious when rescued.

Inspection visit

Gamboa led the inspection of confiscated vehicles at the Laperal Compound in San Pedro, Laguna on Thursday morning. The Laperal Compound was the designated impounding area of the HPG for vehicles confiscated in various police operations.

Gamboa earlier warned policemen not to use vehicles that were confiscated in various police operations amid intelligence reports he received that some erring cops have been using seized vehicles.

Some of the confiscated vehicles at Camp Crame in Quezon City were already transferred to Laperal Compound.

The next schedule of Gamboa was a command visit at the Camp Vicente Lim also in Laguna where he was supposed to hold a command conference with the top officials of the CALABARZON (Cavite, Laguna, Batangas, Rizal, Quezon) regional police.

He was on his way to Camp Vicente Lim when the chopper crashed after accidentally hitting a high tension wire.

Lt. Col. Alejandro Espiritu, director of the HPG-CALABARZON told the Manila Bulletin that the chopper had just taken off a few minutes past 8 a.m. when they noticed that the pilots appear to be having difficulty maneuvering the chopper.

“During the takeoff, the area was covered with thick dust,” Espiritu told the Manila Bulletin, adding that the thick dust was a result of the gust of winds due to the chopper rotors.

The next thing they witnessed, according to Espiritu, was that the chopper was already going down.

Eleazar, for his part, said that the thick dust and debris as a result of the takeoff may have affected the visibility of the pilots.

“This probably resulted in some miscalculations which led the helicopter hitting a wire,” said Eleazar, quoting what was relayed to him by some police officials in the area.

Witnesses said that it was fortunate that the chopper was not on a cruising altitude when it crashed.

The PNP-Public Information Office said that all passengers of the Bell helicopter are okay and only suffered minor injuries.

The helicopter that crashed was the first among the seven helicopters procured by the PNP under its modernization program.

The chopper, a Bell 429 twin engine, was procured during the time of then PNP chief and now Sen. Ronald dela Rosa.

Gamboa was then the head of the Bids and Awards Committee during the procurement process of the chopper.