PNP chief Gamboa: Laguna helicopter crash an ‘accident’

Rambo Talabong
PNP chief Gamboa: Laguna helicopter crash an ‘accident’
'I am convinced nobody in his right mind would do that,' says Philippine National Police chief General Archie Gamboa

MANILA, Philippines – Philippine National Police (PNP) chief General Archie Gamboa sees no foul play in the Laguna helicopter crash that has left two of his fellow top generals in critical condition.

“Sabotage and intended? I don’t believe so. I am convinced nobody in his right mind would do that,” Gamboa said in a mix of English and Filipino on Monday, March 9, continuing his weekly Camp Crame briefing with his right arm in a cast.

He added: “The general term is that there was an accident. Nobody intended that.”

Why does this matter? Gamboa’s statement is critical in the investigation of the special investigation task group (SITG) created to probe the crash as he was inside the cockpit when it occurred.

He gave the conclusion without disclosing details of what he last saw before the tragedy, saying that he did not want to preempt the SITG, as he has yet to submit his testimony to them.

If the SITG will follow Gamboa’s statement, it will then focus on probing possible non-intentional errors committed by cops related to the helicopter’s takeoff. 

What happened? Gamboa boarded a Bell-429 helicopter he procured himself when he was the PNP’s Director for Comptrollership in 2018. After inspecting impounded vehicles in San Pedro, Laguna on Thursday, March 5, Gamboa rode the helicopter for a command visit in Calamba.

In videos obtained by Rappler online, the helicopter was seen parked in a dusty landscape. When it took off, it blew dust that reduced visibility to almost zero. At its ascent, the helicopter got entangled in high-tension wires before crashing.

Flight accidents are rare in the PNP. They tapped the Philippine Air Force and the Civil Aeronautics Authority of the Philippines in their probe on the crash. –

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.