Presidential Assistant to the Visayas Michael Dino was not to blame for his unauthorized chopper landing, the Palace said on Thursday, as it blamed the official’s helicopter pilot for the incident.
Presidential Spokesman Salvador Panelo came to Dino’s defense, saying that the latter had nothing to do with the disruption of a sports event after the chopper he was riding landed at the PhilSports Complex grounds in Pasig City.
“That’s the fault of the pilot, not the passenger,” Panelo, a lawyer, said in a Palace press briefing.
“He landed there when there was an ongoing game, so naturally it would be disrupted. He [the pilot] should have communicated [with the authorities] if the ground was clear,” he added.
From Panelo’s point of view, Dino has no accountability at all over the incident.
“As far as I am concerned, you’re just a passenger why would it be your fault? If he knew there was an ongoing game, then it’s his fault as an official, but he wasn’t aware,” Panelo said, saying he talked with Dino over the phone.
Panelo, the President’s chief legal counsel, insisted that the pilot was at fault, saying he must be charged for the unauthorized stop.
“The pilot should have known that because you’re supposed to have clearance. He should have asked permission. First of all, you should ask the tower where you can take off and get their clearance,” said Panelo.
“It’s really the pilot’s fault. Someone should file a complaint against him,” he added.
Following the surprise helicopter landing, Dino received flak after photos and videos of him walking across the field circulated on social media, saying the Palace official has put the lives of athletes in danger.
But Dino’s spokesman Asst. Sec. Anthony Gonzales said Dino was walking towards a restroom to relieve himself while waiting for others to board the helicopter.
According to Gonzales, the helicopter was picking up someone in the stadium.
“He had no way of knowing that there was an ongoing event in Ultra. He was just told that the chopper will pick up other passengers,” Gonzales told the Philippine News Agency.
Panelo, however, said he was not aware on who hitchhiked on Dino’s controversial helicopter ride.