PNP launches probe into Laguna helicopter crash

Rambo Talabong
Lieutenant General Guillermo Eleazar will lead the probe into the helicopter crash

CRASH SITE. The helicopter carrying PNP Chief Archie Gamboa and other police officials crash in Barangay San Antonio, San Pedro, Laguna on March 5, 2020. Photo by Inoue Jaena/Rappler

MANILA, Philippines – The Philippine National Police said on Thursday, March 5, that it is investigating the crash of the helicopter that carried 8 passengers, including PNP chief General Archie Gamboa and 3 other police generals.

“SITG (Special Investigation Task Group) ‘Bell 429’ is formed effective today to investigate the PNP helicopter crash incident in San Pedro, Laguna, involving the PNP chief and 7 others,” acting PNP spokesman Major General Benigno Durana said in a message to reporters on Thursday.

Deputy Director for Administration Lieutenant General Camilo Cascolan, the PNP’s second highest-ranking official, ordered the creation of the investigation group. 

PNP Deputy Director General for Operations Lieutenant General Guillermo Eleazar will lead the SITG while PNP Director for Investigation and Detective Management Major General Elmo Sarona will be the assistant commander.

Its members include the executive officers of the Directorates for Operations, Intelligence, Police and Community Relations, and of the Special Action Force; the deputy chief for operations of the PNP’s Aviation Security Group; the deputy director for operations of the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group; and the deputy regional director for operations of the Calabarzon Regional Police Office.

Cascolan ordered Eleazar to convene the task group on Thursday, with Durana as its spokesman.

Aside form Gamboa and Banac, the other passengers of the helicopter are:

  1. Director for Intelligence Major General Mariel Magaway
  2. Director for Comptrollership Major General Jovic Ramos
  3. PNP spokesman Brigadier General Bernard Banac
  4. Pilot Lieutenant Colonel Ruel Zalatar
  5. Co-pilot Lieutenant Colonel Rico Makawili
  6. Chopper crewman Master Sergeant Louie Estona
  7. Gamboa’s aide-de-camp Captain Kevin Gayramara

Magaway and Ramos are in “critical condition” as of press time, while the rest suffered “minor injuries,” according to Durana.  –

Rambo Talabong

Rambo Talabong covers the House of Representatives and local governments for Rappler. Prior to this, he covered security and crime. He was named Jaime V. Ongpin Fellow in 2019 for his reporting on President Rodrigo Duterte’s war on drugs. In 2021, he was selected as a journalism fellow by the Fellowships at Auschwitz for the Study of Professional Ethics.