Wed. Sep 22nd, 2021

MANILA — The condition of the two police generals who were among the passengers of the helicopter that crashed in Laguna have improved, Philippine National Police chief Gen. Archie Gamboa said on Monday.

Gamboa said Major Generals Jovic Ramos and Mariel Magaway, Director for Comptrollership and Director for Intelligence, respectively, remain at the intensive care unit of the Asian Hospital in Muntinlupa City.

“(They) remain in critical condition from serious injuries sustained in that incident. We received the latest reports though that their conditions are improving. I invite everyone to join us in fervent prayer for the continuous healing of my classmates Gen. Ramos and Gen. Magaway who remain under intensive care,” Gamboa told reporters in a press conference in Camp Crame.

Gamboa, who was also hospitalized due to the crash but got discharged last Friday, suffered a minor injury on his right shoulder.

He said the two pilots, Lt. Col. Roel Zalatar and Lt. Col. Rico Macawili, and crew member Senior M/Sgt. Luis Estona are still undergoing further tests and medical procedures.

“Estona, underwent surgery last Friday at the St. Luke’s Medical Center (SLMC) Global City where he is confined. The condition of the pilots and crew are, nonetheless, non-life threatening,” he said.

Gamboa’s aide-de-camp Capt. Keventh Gayramara and the PNP Spokesperson, Brig. Gen. Bernard Banac have also been discharged from confinement at the SLMC-Global City, Taguig.

On March 5 at about 8 a.m., the helicopter the police officials were riding crashed upon takeoff when it hit a high-tension wire due to poor visibility caused by thick dust.

Gamboa said all debris of the ill-fated PNP helicopter have been cleared from the crash site and are now secured at a hangar where it will undergo an examination.

“As a procedural measure, the entire PNP fleet of rotary-wing aircraft was grounded following that incident, we will take the cue from the initial findings of SITG (Special Investigation Task Group) Bell 429 to lift the flight restriction in consideration the exigency of the service that requires air support,” Gamboa said.

Gamboa ruled out sabotage as the cause of the crash and said it was an accident.

“I don’t believe that there is sabotage. I am personally convinced that nobody in his right mind would do that, nobody in his right mind, even what kind of interest he has in his mind would do that,” Gamboa said.

The SITG, headed by PNP Deputy Director for Operations Lt. Gen. Guillermo Eleazar, will conduct its fourth meeting Monday afternoon.

Eleazar said they are looking into all angles that resulted in the crash, including the zero visibility due to thick dust and debris, airworthiness of the chopper, and human error.

Eleazar said the sabotage angle that is being floated in social media is unlikely.

While he did not give a time table, Eleazar said they aim to finish the investigation soon. (PNA)

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