PNP helicopter crash unlikely to influence Duterte on chopper trips, says Panelo

Arianne Merez, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Mar 05 2020 02:15 PM

President Rodrigo Duterte emerges from a helicopter as he attends a function with his incoming cabinet members at the PICC on June 15, 2016. Jonathan Cellona, ABS-CBN News

MANILA- President Rodrigo Duterte will unlikely be swayed from riding helicopters even after a fairly new chopper of the Philippine National Police crashed Thursday, Malacañang said.

Noting that the President is “fatalistic,” his spokesman Salvador Panelo dismissed the possibility that the Duterte would forego riding helicopters for his trips.

“I don’t think [he will stop riding helicopters]. You know the President, the President naman always says ‘if it’s my time, it’s my time.’ Fatalistic siya eh,” Panelo told reporters.

Duterte often rides a helicopter for his official functions and for his aerial inspections.

On Thursday morning, a 2-year-old Bell 429 chopper carrying officials of the Philippine National Police crashed in San Pedro City, Laguna, leaving two in critical condition.

PNP chief Gen. Archie Gamboa survived the crash. He was with Major Generals Jovic Ramos and Mariel Magaway, his comptrollership and intelligence heads, respectively; Brig. Gen. Bernard Banac, the PNP spokesman; an aide, a technician and 2 pilots, the PNP Public Information Office said. 

Of the helicopter passengers, police reported that Ramos and Magaway are in “critical condition.”

Duterte will “most likely” visit the injured police officers, Panelo said as he urged the public to refrain from making speculations on the circumstances surrounding the helicopter crash.

“Initial accounts reveal that the mishap was caused by the helicopter getting in contact with a high-tension wire due to poor visibility. With this, we ask the public to refrain from making speculations relative to the circumstances as we wait for the official results of the probe on the incident,” Panelo said.