Chopper carrying PNP chief Gamboa crashes in Laguna
MANILA, Philippines – A helicopter carrying Philippine National Police (PNP) chief Gen. Archie Gamboa crashed Thursday morning in San Pedro, Laguna.
Gamboa and his companions have already been rushed to hospital.
Gamboa was conscious when pulled out of the wreckage, based on initial reports.
He was initially taken to the West Lake Medical Center in this city and was later transferred to St. Lukes Medical Center in Bonifacio Global Center in Taguig City.
He suffered a minor injury on his right shoulder, Lt. Col. Serafin Petalio, provincial director of the Laguna police, said in an interview with reporters.
Gamboa was in San Pedro to visit the impounding site of the local Highway Patrol Group and was on his way to a command visit at Camp Vicente Lim in Calamba, Laguna when the mishap happened.
The helicopter was carrying eight individuals, including Gamboa.
Aside from Gamboa, other passengers of the helicopter are Maj. Gen. Mariel Magaway, PNP Director for Intelligence; Maj. Gen. Jose Maria Ramos, Director for Comptrollership; Brig. Gen. Bernard Banac, PNP spokesperson; pilot Lt. Col. Ruel Zalatar; co-pilot Lt. Col. Rico Macawili; Senior Master Sergeant Louie Estona, helicopter crew; and Capt. Keventh Gayramara, Gamboa’s aide-de-camp.
All individuals in the helicopter are safe and sustained minor injuries, except Magaway and Ramos who remain unconscious and are in critical condition as of posting time.
Petalio said the helicopter carrying Gamboa tried to take off at a dusty portion of the area, which hampered visibility.
The helicopter got in contact with a live wire before the mishap.
“They (Gamboa and companions) were supposed to fly on a chopper. We left ahead and was wondering why no chopper took off,” said Lt. Col Chitadel Gaoiran of the Laguna police in a phone interview.
“Nakontrol naman ng piloto kasi kung hindi nakontrol ‘yun dun sila sa bangin doon [The pilot was able to control the helicopter. If it wasn’t, they could have ended in a cliff],” said Petalio.
San Antonio village chief Eugenio Ynion, in a phone interview, said the accident happened before 9 a.m. as the police official’s chopper attempted to take off.
“The chopper was torched,” he added.
Ynion said the fenced Laperal compound, a private lot, is wired off since the property is the subject of an ongoing property dispute.
“I have been warning the police not to land choppers in there because the area is surrounded by wires,” Ynion said.