By Aaron Recuenco
Gen. Archie Francisco Gamboa, chief of the Philippine National Police (PNP), has approved the conduct of investigation for the purpose of filing charges against the pilots and crew of the PNP helicopter that crashed in San Pedro, Laguna last March.
Gamboa and three other police generals survived the crash with mild to serious injuries.
The PNP chief said his approval of the conduct of investigation for both criminal and administrative charges for the pilots and crew was based on the recommendation of the Special Investigation Task Group created to look into the incident.
“I reviewed the findings and recommendations of the SITG last night (Sunday) and I said, they may conduct an investigation and find out whether there are administrative or criminal culpabilities of the pilot in command and of course including the crew,” said Gamboa.
Early March this year, the helicopter which was recently acquired by the PNP crashed in San Pedro, Laguna after Gamboa and other police generals visited the impounding area of the Highway Patrol Group.
Based on the video taken during the takeoff of the chopper, the sudden gust of winds triggered by rotor and blades produced thick dusts and debris which caused zero visibility for the pilots. The chopper then hit a wire in the area that eventually caused the chopper to crash.
Aside from Gamboa, also injured were PNP spokesman Brig. Gen. Bernard Banac and the three pilots and crew of the chopper.
Two other generals, Maj. Gens. Jovic Ramos and Mariel Magaway were seriously injured.
The pilots and crew who were also injured were identified as Lt. Col. Zeric Soriano, the pilot in charge (PIC); Lt. Col. Rico Makawili, the co-pilot; and crewman Master Sgt. Louie Estona.
“Colonel Zalatar who was the PIC together with the two others from Air Unit are actually assigned in Special Action Force Admin Holding awaiting for the investigation that they will undergo,” said Gamboa.
The PNP earlier acquired seven choppers and waiting for three others for delivery. Gamboa earlier reactivated the PNP pilot training course to produce personnel who could fly the PNP’s air assets.