Nantes, 5 others killed in helicopter crash
- Rudy Santos, Alexis Romero () - May 18, 2010 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines - Quezon governor and Liberal Party National Treasurer Rafael Nantes and five other individuals died after a private helicopter crashed yesterday afternoon in a subdivision in Lucena City, the military said in a text message. Armed Forces of the Philippines Southern Luzon Command spokesman Col. Generoso Bolina said the chopper crashed at around 3:15 p.m. in Hael Subdivision in Barangay Iyam in Lucena City.  

Two of the fatalities were identified only as Army Master Sergeant Alfredo Dominguez and PO2 Randy Roperez, both security aides of Nantes. The other casualties include a pilot and two civilians whose houses were hit by the chopper. The other civilian was Rowena Navales, 14.

Bolina said the civilian chopper exploded 300 meters after take off. Initial reports state that Nantes was about to go back to Manila when the crash happened. There were no reported survivors from the incident. 

Authorities are still verifying the other details involving the crash as of press time.

A private helicopter with registry number RP-C2550, a Robinson 44 type and owned by Lion Air took off at the general aviation hangar in Manila around 7:21 a.m. with a flight plan Manila-Lucena-Manila.

Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP) Director General Alfonso Cusi said that according to the flight plan there are four passengers on board identified as Quezon Gov. Rafael Nantes and pilot Captain N.C. Sanchez and two security officers who were still unidentified as of press time.

Nantes Manila-bound

In a phone interview, election lawyer Romulo Macalintal said Nantes was on his way to Manila to meet with him over his possible election options in the recently concluded elections for governor. Nantes, who was seeking re-election as Quezon governor was trailing behind his opponent David Suarez by over 50,000.

Macalintal added that he spoke with Nantes, who claimed his meeting with him was set on Monday. Macalintal even reminded Nantes that their meeting was supposed to be on Tuesday as indicated in his book schedule. According to Macalintal, Nantes insisted that the meeting was indeed on Monday and he will be late but one of his staff will meet him.

Nantes was a former congressman of Quezon who won as governor of the province in 2007. He also served as a member of the powerful Commission on Appointments.

Information from the Liberal Party’s website showed that Nantes was also the incumbent chairman of the Boy Scouts of the Philippines Quezon Council.

Noynoy shocked

“This afternoon I was shocked to receive news of the untimely demise of my good friend, Quezon Gov. Raffy Nantes.”

“In behalf of my family, allow me to extend my deepest condolences to Gov. Raffy’s loves ones and constituents. Though no words may ease the pain of losing someone, we offer our sympathies and prayers.

“May they be granted strength to cope with this tragedy, and may we honor his memory by continuing his tradition of service.”

Press statement

Meanwhile, Liberal Party president Sen. Mar Roxas in a statement said, “The Liberal Party expresses its sincerest condolences to the family and loved ones of Gov. Nantes. We mourn the untimely demise of our beloved friend and party mate.

“We feel the deep pain and grief that his family and loved ones are experiencing right now. And we fully understand that no amount of good words of consoling acts could relieve them of their sorrow.

“Raffy was a good man. He was a true statesman and a public servant. His love and service to the people of Quezon were unparallel. He has served the Liberal Party well.”

“As a personal friend and a national chairman of the Liberal Party (LP), I am saddened and shocked to hear about the passing of Quezon province governor and LP treasurer Rafael “Raffy” Nantes during a helicopter crash in Lucena City Monday afternoon.

As a public servant and a liberal democrat, Raffy was one of the stalwarts of the LP and I had the honor of working closely with him in steering it into a respectable and relevant national political party that provided the Filipino people with a clear alternative for good governance and effective leadership in the recently-concluded May 2010 elections.

Like his beloved province of Quezon, the LP has become richer by the services Raffy had given through the years. His personal mission of providing exemplary service to the Filipino people was inspirational.

My wife Mila and I offer our profound sympathies and prayers to Raffy’s wife, Betty; his son, Samuel, and all who knew him for his renowned generosity and selflessness. We also extend our sincere condolences to the family members and friends of those who perished with him in the tragic incident.”

LP campaign manager Florencio “Butch” Abad said, “We are deeply saddened by the helicopter crash that took the life of Quezon Gov. Raffy Nantes. He was a big loss to the party and the people of Quezon. Nantes stuck with the LP during trying times especially under President Arroyo.” – With Cecille Suerte Felipe, Arnell Ozaeta, Michelle Zoleta, Aurea Calica

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