MALACAÑANG on Thursday, January 10, absolved President Rodrigo Duterte's assistant for the Visayas Michael Dino of any accountability for an unauthorized helicopter landing at the Philippine Sports Complex (Ultra) in Pasig City and blamed the pilot instead.
Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said the pilot is solely responsible for the chopper landing.
Panelo explained that Dino was merely a passenger who is not privy to any information concerning the plane landing.
"That was the fault of the pilot, not the passenger. Sa akin, as far as I am concerned, ano naman ang kasalanan ng pasahero? Pasahero lang siya dun (For me, as far as I am concerned, what's the fault of the passenger? He's just a passenger)," the Palace official said.
Dino was under fire after a video of him stepping out of the helicopter in the middle of a sports event held at Ultra went viral on social media.
On Wednesday, January 9, the Office of the Presidential Assistant for the Visayas (OPAV) explained that the helicopter was there to pick up some passengers and Dino took the opportunity to take a bathroom break.
Assistant Secretary Jonji Gonzales, OPAV spokesperson, said Dino was unaware that there was an ongoing sports event when his chopper landed at the Ultra Sports Complex.
Panelo said it was the pilot's fault, stressing that the latter should have verified first if the area where the helicopter would land was clear.
"If he (pilot) landed there when there's an ongoing game, maiistorbo nga. Dapat nun, nag-communicate siya kung clear ba ang ground (If he landed there when there's an ongoing game, then it would really be interrupted. The pilot should have communicated to know if the ground's clear)," he said.
"The pilot should have known that because you're supposed to have clearance. Magpapaalam ka muna kung saan ka pupunta. Unang-una, hihingi ka ng clearance sa tower kung pwede ka nang mag-take off. Tapos kung saan ka maglalanding, dapat alam mo na clear doon. Mali ang piloto doon," he added.
(The pilot should have known that because you're supposed to have clearance. Ask permission first where you should go. First, seek a clearance as to where you can take off. And if you're about to land, make sure it's clear. The pilot is at fault there.)
Panelo said Dino was criticized because he is a public official.
"Ang dating parang nag-abuso si Secretary Dino. Ang tingin ko doon, nagkataon lang na nandoon ka, nakita mukha mo doon. Pero ang reaksyon ng mga tao doon, nagulo, ginimbala niyo yung game ng chopper niyo. 'Yun yun," Panelo said.
(People think that Secretary Dino abused his power. For me, it happened by chance that he's there and the people saw him. The public's reaction was the chopper interrupted the game.)
"Kung alam niya na merong game, mali siya as an official (If he is aware that there's an ongoing event, he made a mistake as an official)," he added. (SunStar Philippines)