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On PNP Chief Gamboa’s chopper crash

By: Attorney Ruphil Bañoc - Columnist/CDN Digital | March 06,2020 - 09:06 AM

As of this writing, the medical bulletin of General Archie Gamboa, Philippine National Police (PNP) chief, is improving after he and his companions survived a helicopter crash yesterday morning (March 5, 2020) in San Pedro, Laguna.

In a picture shown by Brigadier General Albert Ignatius Ferro, Police Regional Office in Central Visayas (PRO-7) regional director, to reporters, Gamboa made a thumbs-up sign while lying down on his bed at West Lake Medical Center. He was then transferred to St. Luke Medical Center in Bonifacio Global City, Taguig City.

Aside from Gamboa, the helicopter was carrying Brigadier General Bernard Banac, PNP spokesman; Major General Jovic Ramos; Major General Mariel Magaway; Captain Kevin Gayramara, Gamboa’s aide; Lieutenant Colonel Ruel Zalatar, pilot; Lieutenant Colonel Rico Makawili, co-pilot; and Master Sergeant Loui Estona. They all survived the crash.

Gamboa and company went to the Highway Patrol Group (HPG) Camp at San Pedro, Laguna to inspect impounded vehicles. He was supposed to proceed to his next appointment in Calamba, Laguna but his chopper crashed.

In the actual video, when the chopper he boarded took off, dust flew and created a thick cloud of dust that affected the visibility in the area. The next thing that happened was a loud bang that was heard in the area. The chopper crashed.

Questions about the crash

In the initial report, the helicopter was entangled by a wire that resulted in the crash. The investigation of the whole incident is still going on, and investigators are still working on sorting out what really happened.

For now, the unavoidable questions are the following, to wit: How come a new chopper driven by expert pilots crashed in broad daylight? What really are the factors that caused it to crash? Was it human error, mechanical error, terrain, weather condition, or the wires as initial reports suggested?

Is it believable that the human error factor is the cause when the pilots are experienced senior officers having the ranks of Lieutenant Colonels? Is it mechanical error when the chopper is new because it has been just purchased last year?

Is it the terrain factor when the place is an open ground and open space as shown in the video? Was it the weather condition when the sun shone clearly as seen in a crystal blue sky?

What about the reported wires? How come that the advance party of the PNP chief did not see the wires if there was really any? Is it believable that experienced pilots carrying the PNP chief have been negligent enough not to clear the area from wires?

It could have been a different story if the chopper was touching down and not taking-off. So they had enough time to clear the area. Were the pilots so reckless?

We wish General Gamboa a full recovery. Life is short. We don’t own it. God owns it. We have our own shortcomings, and we have to endeavor to do better while we still have the chance.

Espenido’s narcolist reaction

Power is fleeting. We have to reconcile with those we have hurt, particularly if deeply. Lieutenant Colonel Jovie Espenido’s pain was beyond measure when his name was included in the narcolist. He was tagged not just as an ordinary drug protector, but as a High-Value Target (HVT), the same level as Kerwin Espinosa’s.

When tensions are high, sometimes we tend to hurt people. Espenido voiced out and cried foul on the baseless allegations. He was threatened with another case of violating Gamboa’s gag order. There is no way we can calculate the damage that it has done to Espenido’s name.

I remember when I interviewed Espenido in my program about his name in the narcolist and his dismay of his PNP chief, he just said that he prayed everything to his God. His exact words were, “Ako nang gitugyan tanan sa Ginoo. Ginoo ray mag-igo niya.”

(I am leaving everything to God. It will be up to him.)

I know Espenido prays a lot. He prays every morning and evening. He does fasting once a week and if there are big operations he does fasting the whole week. He is like the prayerful warriors mentioned in the old testament of the Bible.

I believe, however, that because the two are good gentlemen, they have already forgiven each other. “Only the strong can forgive.”  /dbs

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