MANILA – The Philippine Air Force (PAF) on Thursday dismissed claims that Vice President Sara Z. Duterte travels from Manila to Davao on a daily basis using helicopters from the 250th Presidential Airlift Wing (PAW).
"We can attest to that na hindi po araw-araw ang paggamit ng ating helicopters, tulad po ng sinabing pag-uwi sa Davao, I presume po ang ina-assume nila is travel from Manila to Davao, I myself is a presidential helicopter pilot previously (We can attest that the helicopters are not utilized or flown daily, like that those being claimed that it is being flown to Davao. I am presuming that they are assuming that the helicopters are being used from the travel to Manila to Davao, I used to be also a presidential helicopter pilot)," said PAF spokesperson, Col. Ma. Consuelo Castillo, in an interview with CNN Philippines Wednesday night.
She added that the use of helicopters for this particular route is not practical as doing so would take almost half a day and involves a lot of refueling stops.
"Hindi po talaga rational and practical kung gagamitin ang helicopter natin sa pag-uwi sa Davao araw-araw especially if coming from Metro Manila (It is not rational and practical to use helicopters in going home to Davao everyday especially if coming from Metro Manila)," Castillo said.
Castillo, meanwhile, said the 250th PAW's mandate is to transport the President, members of the First Family, visiting heads of state, and other local and foreign VIPs.
"And considering that our VP (Vice President) is the second highest leader of the land nararapat lang po na bigyan natin ng suporta ang mga movements ng ating Vice President lalo na if she is acting or performing her mandate on behalf of the President (And considering that our VP is the second highest leader of the land, it is only proper that we support all her movements especially if she is acting or performing her mandate on behalf of the President)," Castillo said.
She added that all helicopters and fixed-wing aircraft of the 250th PAW could be used only for official functions and must be authorized by the President.
"For instance, if the Vice President is going to use a presidential chopper, her office will forward a request to the Office of the President through the Presidential Security Group (PSG). Upon approval, the Office of the President will issue a directive to the PSG which will then forward it to the PAW of the Philippine Air Force. That is the only time our aircraft can be used," Castillo said. (PNA)