MANILA, Philippines (UPDATE 6) - A private helicopter carrying Quezon Gov. Rafael Nantes of the Liberal Party crashed in Lucena City Monday, killing all 4 people on board.
Maj. Romy Caranza, security staff of Nantes, identified the victims as Nantes, pilot Capt. Nestor Sanchez, Army Master Sergeant Alfred Dominguez and Police Officer 3 Randy Roperez.
"Confirmed na po. Wala na po siya [Nantes] ‘tsaka iyong mga kasama niya. Sunog na sunog po iyong chopper," Lando Villamor, Nantes's photographer, said in an interview on ANC.
He said the Robinson R-44 helicopter (registry number C2250) crashed into 2 houses at Hael Subdivision 1 Barangay Iyam.
Caranza said Nantes had attended a flag-raising ceremony at Quezon National High School and was on his way back to Manila when the crash occurred. He said the helicopter took off at 3:10 p.m. and crashed about a kilometer from the take-off point 5 minutes later
He blamed mechanical failure for the crash, based on eyewitnesses' reports.
Police, meanwhile, clarified that only 12-year-old Mary Joy Labis was killed on the ground when the chopper crashed. An initial report had said that 2 children on the ground were killed.
Nantes, who was treasurer of the Liberal Party (LP), recently lost a re-election bid against David Suarez of Lakas-Kampi CMD.
Florencio "Butch" Abad, the LP campaign manager said the death of Nantes was a great loss to the party and to Quezon province.
Nantes was a stalwart follower and loyal LP member, Abad told ABS-CBN News.
Abad added that Senator Benigno "Noynoy" Aquino III, LP standard-bearer, and his running mate Sen. Mar Roxas both extend their condolonces to Nantes's bereaved family. - Reports from ANC; abs-cbnNEWS.com/Newsbreak