OVP defends Duterte's use of presidential chopper

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, September 14) — Vice President Sara Duterte is receiving flak after sharing on social media that she is using the presidential chopper for personal trips. Her team was quick to clarify the issue.

Her spokesperson Reynold Munsayac on Wednesday said that the vice president doesn't fly daily to her hometown in Davao City since she and her family are now based in Metro Manila.

He added she only uses the 250th Presidential Airlift Wing for official functions.

"Land vehicles din po ang ginagamit nila araw-araw. Ginagamit lang po ang chopper kapag kailangan sa official work and functions, based sa lugar na pupuntahan at urgency of schedule," he said.

[Translation: They use land vehicles on a daily basis. She only uses the chopper for official work and functions depending on the location and urgency.]

Speaking to CNN Philippines' News Night, Philippine Air Force spokesperson Col. Bon Nunag Castillo said she can attest that the aircraft is not used daily.

"Kung gagamitin natin ang helicopters from Manila to Davao, it would take almost more than half a day to travel kasi magkakaroon po ng maraming stops for refueling. So hindi po talaga rational and practical na gagamitin ang helicopter natin sa pag-uwi sa Davao araw-araw especially if coming from Manila," she explained.

[Translation: If we will use helicopters from Manila to Davao, it would take almost more than half a day to travel because there will be a lot of stops for refueling. So it's really not rational and practical to use helicopters when going home to Davao everyday especially if coming from Manila.]

Castillo added that the helicopters are used by the president, the first family, different visiting heads of state, and other local and foreign VIPs, including high government officials.

She also noted that there's a process before the aircraft can be utilized, citing the Office of the Vice President (OVP) as an example.

"From the [OVP], they will forward a request to the Office of the President through the Presidential Security Group (PSG). Then upon the approval of the Office of the President, magbababa po ito ng [it will issue a] directive. Through PSG, ifo-forward po ang directive sa ating Presidential Airlift Wing of the Philippine Air Force at doon pa lang po pwedeng magamit ang ating aircraft [Through PSG, the directive will be forwarded to the Presidential Airlift Wing of the Philippine Air Force and that's only the time the aircraft can be used], she said.

Duterte, in a birthday greeting, shared on Tuesday that President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. has been lending her the aircraft to ensure that she is "home in time to tuck my children to bed."