Helicopter carrying PNP chief Archie Gamboa crashes in Laguna

MANILA, Philippines – (6th UPDATE) A helicopter carrying Philippine National Police  chief General Archie Gamboa and 7 others, including other top PNP officials, crashed in San Pedro, Laguna, on Thursday, March 5.

Gamboa sustained minor injuries, but two other police generals with him were in "critical condition," said Police Major General Benigno Durana.

The two are PNP comptrollership chief Major General Jovic Ramos, PNP intelligence director Major General Mariel Magaway.

The PNP Public Information Office said in an initial statement that "all police officers and pilots were safe with minor injuries."

The others on the chopper were PNP Spokesman Brigadier General Bernard Banac, Gamboa's aide-de-camp Captain Kevin Gayramara, pilot Lieutenant Colonel Ruel Zalatar, co-pilot Lieutenant Colonel Rico Makawili, and Master Sergeant Louie Estona.

According to a DZMM report, Gamboa was seen conscious as he was ferried out of the crash site. He reportedly made a thumbs-up sign and said he was okay as he was being brought out of the chopper.

Gamboa was scheduled for a conference with top police officials in Calamba, Laguna on Thursday morning, but he first went to San Pedro to inspect impounded vehicles.

When the chopper took off, dust flew and created a thick cloud of dust that affected the visibility in the area. This caused the aircraft to get entangled in a power line and forced it to crash.

"The victims were rushed to the nearest hospital by the responding HPG (Highway Patrol Group) personnel and medical personnel while the fire truck on standby instantly controlled the fire," the PNP said.

In a phone interview with Rappler, San Pedro police chief Lieutenant Colonel Zeric Soriano said Gamboa was "okay," and was brought to Westlake Medical Center in San Pedro, Laguna.  The PNP said the rest were brought to Southwoods Hospital in Laguna. 

Gamboa was moved to the St Luke's Medical Center-Global City in Taguig past 10 am, while the other passengers would be moved to the hospital as well. Ramos and Magaway, however, would remain at Southwoods Hospital until their condition stabilizes.

In an interview on DZMM, PNP Deputy Spokesperson Kimberly Molitas said that Banac was also "okay."

"He is okay, he is being attended to by doctors. Wala po siyang bad injuries (He has no bad injuries). The rest are also being attended to," Molitas said. 

DZMM reporter Noel Alamar, who witnessed the entire incident from take off  to the rescue of the passengers, said in a radio report that the chopper was just 30 feet above ground when it got caught in the power line. The chopper then spiraled and crashed on the road. – Rappler.com

Rambo Talabong

Rambo Talabong covers security, crime, and the city of Manila for Rappler. He was chosen as a Jaime V. Ongpin Fellow in 2019 for his reporting on President Rodrigo Duterte’s war on drugs.

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