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CHOPPER CRASH. Police personnel retrieve the bodies of three passengers of a helicopter that crashed into a fishpond in Barangay Anilao, City of Malolos in Bulacan on Thursday (April 25, 2019). The chopper was on its way to San Fernando, Pampanga when it met its tragic fate. (Photo by Manny Balbin)

CITY OF MALOLOS, Bulacan — Three persons, including the former president of Clark Development Corporation (CDC), perished when a helicopter carrying them crashed into a fishpond here on Thursday.

Colonel Chito Bersaluna, Bulacan police director, said the helicopter with body number RP C8098 fell into a fishpond in Barangay Anilao, this city around 12:30 p.m. and was severely damaged.

He said police personnel were immediately dispatched to the crash site after receiving the report around 12:50 pm.

Lt. Col. Emerey Abating, police chief of Malolos, reported to Bersaluna that the crash victims were former CDC president and Laus Group of Companies chair, Liberato “Levy” Laus, along with his aide and pilot.

The 68-year-old Laus was rushed to the Bulacan Medical Center here but was declared dead on arrival.

Laus served as CDC president from Oct. 1, 2006 to July 31, 2008, under the administration of former President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo.

Laus was the moving force behind the highly-successful Laus Group of Companies, selling Mitsubishi cars, BMW, KIA, Subaru, Ford and other brands.

He later ventured into the media industry, launching DWRW 95.1 FM during the reconstruction efforts after the Mt. Pinatubo eruption and the daily newspaper, Sun Star Pampanga, the former Sun Star Clark. He was also the owner of CLTV 36, a television station in Central Luzon.

Laus was also chairman emeritus of the Pampanga Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

The other crash victims were identified as Capt. Everette Coronel, the pilot and Laus’ personal bodyguard Wilfran Esteban. The two were declared dead at the crash site.

“Authorities are still investigating the cause of the crash,” Bersaluna said.

The helicopter left the Ninoy Aquino International Airport General Aviation hangar at 12:28 p.m., and was bound for San Fernando, Pampanga when the mishap took place.

The Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP) is now investigating the incident.

Meanwhile, the Laus family and the Laus Group of Companies released a statement on the fateful accident.

“His untimely passing unfortunately came at a time when he was looking forward to greater things, not only for the LGC, but also for the whole province of Pampanga, especially his beloved city of San Fernando. He unfailingly demonstrated the exceptional values in business, integrity and compassion in all his work. He will be greatly missed,” the statement read. (With report from Cristina Arayata/PNA)

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