TARLAC (3rd UPDATE) —It was unusual sight on an otherwise ordinary rainy day at the highway.
A remote portion of the Subic-Clark-Tarlac Expressway (SCTEX) served as a makeshift helipad Friday morning as the chopper carrying President Aquino and his party made a safe emergency landing due to poor visibility caused by heavy rains.
The presidential chopper makes an emergency landing at the Subic-Clark-Tarlac Expressway (SCTEX) in San Miguel, Tarlac, due to poor visibility caused by heavy rains. (Photo exclusive to ABS-CBN News)
The choppers were supposed to land at the AFP Northern Luzon Command headquarters at Camp Servillano Aquino in San Miguel, Tarlac.
But the President’s aerial convoy encountered heavy rains at around 8:50AM, forcing the presidential chopper to land at the end of the SCTEX in the vicinity of San Miguel town.
Photographs obtained by ABS-CBN News showed the white chopper bearing the presidential seal landing on the concrete portion of the highway leading to SCTEX’s San Miguel exit, along with four other choppers
accompanying the presidential chopper.
The other choppers were carrying a number of cabinet secretaries, including DILG Secretary Jesse Robredo, DPWH Secretary Rogelio Singson, Energy Secretary Rene Almendras, DSWD Secretary Dinky
Soliman, and Communications Secretary Ricky Carandang.
Also joining the trip were political allies who are being eyed as senatorial candidates of the administration: TESDA Director General Joel Villanueva, Aurora Rep. Sonny Angara, and former Akbayan Rep. Risa Hontiveros.
In an interview, Carandang said poor visibility led to the emergency landing but said that nobody was hurt.
“Medyo lumakas ang ulan nung palapit tayo sa Tarlac and ‘yung visibility naging very low. So nagdesisyon ‘yung piloto na imbes na ituloy, ibaba na muna ‘yung chopper para just to be safe. Dahil ‘yung
visibility medyo sumama talaga e,” Carandang told ABS-CBN News.
“Safe lahat. Wala namang nangyaring masama. The landing was smooth. In fact, hindi mo nga napansin na nagkaproblema because the flight was so smooth. So magaling ‘yung ating mga piloto at wala namang nasaktan,” he added.
The incident caused a delay in the President’s inspection of provinces affected by the southwest monsoon but he nevertheless went ahead with his itinerary.
From the SCTEX, the President then motored by land to the evacuation center in Barangay Apulid in Paniqui where he led the distribution of relief goods to some 205 families from Sitio Caturay and Sitio
“Medyo natagalan lang ho ako kaunti. ‘Yung pa-landing ho ng helicopter e bumaba ‘yung tinatawag nilang ceiling,” Aquino told the evacuees explaining why he was behind schedule.
He then proceeded to Sta. Lucia Elementary School in Capas, Tarlac.
In both locations, the President assured the evacuees of the government’s help as the people try to recover from the devastation caused by the southwest monsoon.
He said that infrastructure projects will be carried out to prevent further destruction in future storms.
“Ako po’y nagagalak, nakikita ko [na] bagamat nasalanta kayo ay buhay na buhay ho kayo. Nakangiti pa. At umasa ho kayo, handa ang gobyerno niyong alalayan kayo’t tulungan kayo lahat,” Aquino said.
He also thanked the province of Isabela for donating rice to affected provinces and the province of Albay for sending rescue teams.
The President also thanked a number of private companies for their respective donations.
The President also motored his way to evacuation centers in Dinalupihan, Bataan; San Fernando, Pampanga; and Malolos, Bulacan.