2 Lionair pilots say they flew Mike Arroyo, family
Two former pilots employed by Lionair Inc. said they flew helicopters in Mindanao during the election period in 2004.
They told senators on Thursday that they also had flown members of the family of then President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo on the helicopters maintained by Lionair, and its previous incarnation Airspan.
Former Chief Insp. Dennis Silvestre, a Philippine National Police pilot who went Awol, recalled that during the 2004 election period, he flew several military officers around the vicinity of Marawi City in Mindanao.
Silvestre said he noticed that the officers carried large bags but added that he was not aware of their contents.
Margarito Labastilla, a part-time Lionair pilot, remembered flying to various points of Mindanao during the 2004 election period, including Tawi-Tawi, Marawi, General Santos, Cagayan de Oro and Bukidnon.
Labastilla said his passengers were men in civilian clothing.
Asked whether he thought his passengers were in Mindanao for election-related “special operations,” Labastilla said he did not have the capacity to determine so.
“I cannot personally say ‘yes,’ if they were military. They were not in uniform and I did not have previous acquaintance with them,” he added.
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