Police general in March chopper crash dies

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    POLICE Major Gen. Jose Maria Victor Ramos, who had been in a coma for over seven months due to injuries sustained in a helicopter crash in San Pedro City, Laguna, died yesterday, according to PNP chief Camilo Cascolan.

    Cascolan said Ramos, the former PNP director for comtrollership, died at the Asian Hospital and Medical Center in Muntinlupa City.

    Ramos had been in coma since March 5 when the Bell 426 chopper he was riding crashed after hitting a high-tension wire shortly after takeoff at a vacant lot in Barangay San Antonio, San Pedro City due to poor visibility caused by dust clouds. Seven others were injured in the incident, including former PNP chief Archie Gamboa, former PNP director for intelligence Maj. Gen. Mariel Magaway and former PNP spokesman Brig. Gen. Bernard Banac.

    “On behalf of the Philippine Military Academy ‘Sinagtala’ Class 1986, it is with a heavy heart that I join the officers and personnel of the Philippine National Police in prayer and mourning over the passing of Police Major General Jose Victor Ramos at 12:07 a.m. today after a long hard battle due to serious injuries he sustained during that fateful helicopter accident in San Pedro, Laguna on March 5, 2020,” Cascolan said.

    Cascolan said the remains of Ramos were cremated and will be brought to the Eternal Gardens in Sta. Rosa City, also in Laguna.

    “He will be accorded full honors befitting a police general,” Cascolan said of Ramos, who is supposed to reach the mandatory retirement age of 56 on November 25 this year.

    Ramos and Cascolan were classmates at the Philippine Military Academy class of 1986. The three other PNP chiefs who served before Cascolan were also members of the class – Gamboa, Oscar Albayalde and now Sen. Ronald Dela Rosa.

    Magaway was also severely injured in the incident. He was discharged from the Asian Hospital and Medical Center on May 27 after more than two months of treatment.

    PNP spokesman Col. Ysmael Yu described Ramos as “one of the hardworking and trustworthy” senior officers of the police force. He said Ramos was instrumental in “speedy and transparent procurement” of equipment and other essentials for the PNP.

    Yu said Ramos “fought a good fight to enjoy his supposed retirement from the service on November 25 with his family but the Almighty has another plan for him.”

    Citing the investigation report of the incident dated June 19, Yu said the pilot of the ill-fated helicopter, Lt. Col. Roel Zalatar, “failed to conduct risk assessment before the takeoff which is required for a trained pilot like him.”

    Yu said administrative charges were filed against Zalatar before the PNP Internal Service last month.

    He said there was “lack of situational awareness and evaluation of surroundings” on the part of the pilot. Such awareness, he said, are part of the protocol for safe and proper takeoff.

    Yu said investigators established “lapses in judgment” on the part of Zalatar and had been recommended by investigators to be held administratively and criminally liable.