MANILA (UPDATED) — The Philippine National Police is considering at least 3 angles in the helicopter crash that injured its top official and 7 others, the probe's leader said Friday.
The 2-year-old Bell 429 chopper carrying PNP chief Gen. Archie Gamboa crashed after it got tangled with power lines in a sandy area in San Pedro, Laguna on Thursday.
Investigators will look into possible pilot error, the chopper's condition and the takeoff site preparation, said PNP Deputy Chief for Operations Lt. Gen. Guillermo Eleazar.
The takeoff site was drenched with water before Gamboa arrived to inspect impounded vehicles. The ground could have dried up before his chopper took off, Eleazar told DZMM.
"Siguro dapat nadiligan pa iyan bago nag-takeoff," Interior and Local Government Secretary Eduardo Año, whose agency oversees the PNP, said in a separate interview.
(Perhaps that should have been sprayed with water again before takeoff.)
"Kailangan malaman natin ano talaga ang nangyari dito," he said.
(We need to find out what really happened here.)
The Police, Air Force and the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines will inspect the crash site later Friday, said Eleazar.
"This is probably the first time that we will be conducting a chopper or aircraft crash investigation kaya (so) we really need the help of concerned agencies," he told reporters in the area.
Gamboa said he was "okay" and would return to work on Monday.
Major Generals Jovic Ramos and Mariel Magaway, the PNP's comptrollership and intelligence heads, respectively were still in critical condition, said Eleazar.
Magaway is stable while Ramos is still unconscious and needs thorough medical attention, he said.
The PNP's 6 other choppers are grounded pending the results of the investigation, Año said. The helicopter that crashed was the police's lone twin-engine aircraft, he said.
This safety precaution will "not necessarily" affect police operations, said Eleazar.
"Sa totoo lang, dati naman kaming walang chopper. Ngayon pa lang namin ie-establish ang paggamit nito," he said.
(Honestly, we had no choppers before. We only started establishing their use.)
"This fleet actually hindi pa ito fully utilized. Nagko-conduct pa tayo ng training sa would-be pilots," he added.
(This fleet actually is not yet fully utilized.We are still training would-be pilots.)