PNP files charges vs. pilot on chopper crash as one of injured passengers dies

Published October 20, 2020, 3:25 PM

by Aaron Recuenco 

Following the death of a police general due to serious injuries in a helicopter crash in March, the Philippine National Police (PNP) said it already filed a case against the pilot of the chopper.

Police Major General Jose Maria Victor Ramos, then comptrollership head, died at 12:07 a.m. on Tuesday after more than seven months of fighting for his life. 

He was among seven passengers of the helicopter, including then newly appointed PNP Chief General Archie Gamboa, then Intelligence chief Maj. Gen. Mariel Magaway, then PNP spokesman Brig. Gen. Bernard Banac and three others who were injured as a result of the crash that occurred at the Laperal Compound in San Pedro City, Laguna on March 5.

PNP spokesman Col. Ysmael Yu said an administrative case was already filed against whom he described as the Pilot-In-Charge of the PNP Helicopter Bell 429 before the Internal Affairs Service. 

The case was Grave Misconduct (Reckless Imprudence Resulting in Serious Physical Injuries, Multiple Less Serious Physical Injuries and Damages to Property under Article 365 of the Revised Penal Code) in September 2020.

As to the criminal liability, the case is still subject for review of the Office of the Chief, PNP, according to Yu.

“The SITG Bell 429 has also recommended safety measures in order to prevent a repeat of this unfortunate incident,” said Yu.

 Of the seven, Ramos and Magaway suffered serious injuries. Ramos died at 12:07 a.m. on Tuesday after more than seven months of fighting for his life. 

Yu described Ramos as one of the hardworking and trustworthy police senior officers.

“As Chairman of the PNP Bids and Awards Committee and Director for Comptrollership, he was instrumental in the speedy and transparent procurement of various equipment and essentials for the PNP as well as the immediate downloading of funds needed of our personnel on the ground,” said Yu.

“Police Maj. Gen. Joevic Ramos fought (the) good fight to enjoy his supposed retirement from the service on November 25 with his family, but the Almighty has another plan for him. The PNP extends its deepest sympathies for his wife, children and other members of his family, (and) the PMA Sinagtala Class of 1986,” he added.

Yu said that immediately after the PNP helicopter crash all PNP air-assets were temporarily grounded and Police Lt. Gen. Guillermo Lorenzo Eleazar was designated to lead the Special Investigation Task Group (SITG) Bell 429 which was instructed to conduct a thorough investigation on all the circumstances that led to the crash.

On June 19, the SITG Bell 429 came up with these findings: 

1. That the Bell 429 was airworthy, having been issued with a Certification of Airworthiness by the CAAP;

2. That there was no trouble in both engines of the aircraft;

3.  That the Pilot-In-Command failed to conduct risk assessment before the takeoff which is required for a trained pilot like him;

4. That there was lack of situational awareness and evaluation of surroundings which are part of the protocol for safe and proper takeoff;

5. That there were some lapses in judgment on the part of the Pilot-In-Command that include underestimating the capability of the aircraft.

It was these findings which served as the basis for the IAS to pursue an administrative case against the Pilot-In-Charge with a rank of Police Lieutenant Colonel.