Helicopter crashes in Philippines after police chief calls for lift from resort

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The chief of police in the Philippines has defended his actions after a police helicopter that was on its way to pick him up from a luxury resort crashed, killing one person on board. 

On the morning of February 21, 2022, a single-engine Airbus H125 helicopter with registry number RP-9710 departed from Manila Domestic Airport. Local media reported that it was flying to Northern Quezon for an “administrative mission” when it was reported missing at 06:17 local time.

Tragically, the Airbus helicopter was found to have crashed in the town of Real, Quezon, approximately 95 kilometers south of Manila, where conditions were rainy at the time of the accident. The chopper was on its way to an upscale private resort island, where Philippine National Police (PNP) chief Dionardo Carlos stayed overnight on a private trip.

A police patrolman was found in critical condition at the crash site, and eventually died while being treated for his injuries. Two police lieutenants, the helicopter’s pilot and co-pilot, are currently undergoing medical treatment. 

On Tuesday February 22, 2022, Carlos released a statement to local media as an attempt to explain why a police helicopter had been sent to pick him up from a private trip.

Carlos said that he checked in at the island resort on Sunday, February 20, 2022, for ‘private time’ and was scheduled to return to Manila the following morning via private transport.

Carlos said that due to ‘unforeseen circumstances’, the private transport would only be available in the evening of Monday, February 21, 2022. 

“This prompted me to request for an admin flight to transfer/move me back to Camp Crame Monday morning so I can perform my duties. The flight directive was allowed and issued following PNP rules and regulations,” Carlos says.

Despite the incident provoking debate in the Philippines, Carlos seems to have received support from the administration.

A government news agency site reports that the vice-chair of the House National Defense and Security Committee said that there was “nothing irregular” about the Philippine National Police (PNP) chief using a police helicopter to pick him up from the private island resort despite it being for personal travel. 

Department of Interior and local government Secretary Eduardo Año earlier said there was no need for Carlos to go on leave amid the investigation on the chopper crash.

“He (Carlos) is still the chief PNP and it’s rightful for him to use the PNP chopper to be able to attend a forthcoming official duty when there are no other available means,” Año said.

He also cleared Carlos of any liability and said the investigation will “focus on the cause of the accident” with the assistance of the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines

The Philippine National Police Headquarters has grounded the entire fleet of H125 Airbus Police helicopters while an investigation is underway in coordination with the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines, the Department of Transportation, and other concerned agencies.

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