Probe underway on PNP chopper crash in Quezon — Palace

The Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) is now probing the tragic crash of a helicopter owned by the Philippine National Police (PNP) in Real, Quezon on Monday, Feb. 21, that left a policeman dead and two police pilots seriously injured.

(Photo from the Philippine National Police)

"The DILG is currently investigating the circumstances surrounding the fatal crash of the chopper," Cabinet secretary and acting presidential spokesperson Karlo Nograles said in a Palace press briefing on Tuesday, Feb. 22.

"Abangan na lang po natin kung ano iyong magiging resulta ng imbestigasyon na iyan ng DILG (Let's just wait for the result of the DILG's investigation," he added.

Nograles likewise condoled with the family of police patrolman Allen Noel Ona who died while being revived during a rescue operation at the crash site in Barangay Pandan.

Meanwhile, police pilot Lt. Col. Dexter Vitug and co-pilot Lt. Col. Michael Melloria are currently confined and undergoing treatment in a private hospital in Infanta, Quezon.

"Kami po ay nakikiramay sa pamilya ng isang crew member na namatay dahil sa crash na ito (We extend our condolences to the family of a crew member who died in the crash) and we wish the two injured a speedy recovery," Nograles said.

Police reports showed that the chopper was supposed to pick up PNP chief Gen. Dionardo Carlos from Balesin, a high-end island resort in Quezon, where he stayed during the weekend.

The helicopter, an Airbus H-125, reportedly took off at 6:17 a.m. at the Manila Domestic Airport in Pasay City on an administrative mission. It was initially reported missing but was later discovered to have crashed in Real town.

In a separate statement, the DILG Secretary Eduardo Año already absolved the PNP chief from any responsibility for the helicopter crash.

"He is still the chief PNP and it’s rightful for him to use the PNP chopper to be able to attend a forthcoming official duty when there are no other available means," Año insisted.