SAN PEDRO, Laguna (7th UPDATE) — Philippine National Police Chief Gen. Archie Gamboa and 7 others survived a helicopter crash here on Thursday and were brought to a hospital for treatment.
Gamboa was on the 2-year-old Bell 429 chopper 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.
Ramos and Magaway are however in "critical condition," said PNP Community Relations chief Maj. Gen. Benigno Durana, Jr.
"They are being well-taken care of by our doctors based in Laguna and as soon as their condition stabilizes, they will be moved sa pinakamalapit na ospital (to the nearest hospital)," he said.
Just minutes before in the same press huddle, Durana said Gamboa "and all 7 other passengers and crew... are safe and currently undergoing treatment for minor injuries in different private hospitals."
Except for Ramos and Magaway, all those on board the chopper have been transferred to private hospitals in Metro Manila, added Durana.
Gamboa suffered scrapes and his right hand was swollen. None of his bones were fractured, Durana said.
The helicopter got tangled with power lines shortly after takeoff in San Pedro town, according to an ABS-CBN reporter on the scene who witnessed the incident.
The take-off site in Barangay San Antonio was sandy and the chopper's propellers fanned the debris, creating poor visibility, said Calabarzon police spokesperson Lt. Chit Gaoiran, quoting witnesses on the ground.
Gamboa and his men were in San Pedro for an inspection of impounded vehicles. The aircraft was supposed to bring him to Camp Vicente Lim in neighboring Calamba town.
The wreckage of PNP Chief Gen. Archie Gamboa's helicopter is shown in this video. Gamboa survived the incident. April Magpantay, ABS-CBN News
The PNP chief was conscious when he was brought out of the helicopter, said the officer who carried him, Capt. Ranny Espilles, deputy chief investigator of the PNP Highway Patrol Group special operations division.
The twin-engine helicopter that figured in the accident was brand new when the PNP purchased it in 2017. Gamboa was then the head of PNP logistics and led bidding procedures for the aircraft.
"It went through proper bidding procedure. Alam natin maraming kaso beforehand kaya nag-iingat talaga siya na hindi masingitan ng kalokohan iyong procurement n'yan," said Sen. Ronald dela Rosa, the PNP chief at that time.
(We know there were many corruption cases beforehand so he really took care that no anomaly would taint that procurement.)
The PNP also temporarily grounded its entire aircraft fleet "as a standard procedure while investigation is underway," he said.
The chopper's pilots were trained in the Philippines, France, and the US, said Durana.
"Even a very good world-class training cannot foresee any accident," he said.
-- With reports from April Magpantay, Raffy Santos, Gillan Ropero and Jamaine Punzalan, ABS-CBN News