Let us pray to give his family, loved ones and rescuers strength and that he may be found soon.
NAGA CITY, Philippines – Interior Secretary Jesse Robredo was declared missing after the plane carrying him and two others crashed in the waters off Masbate City at about 5 p.m. Saturday.
Aside from Robredo, reported missing amid a search-and-rescue operation mounted by both the Coast Guard and Masbate local officials were the still unidentified pilots, according to Colonel Generoso Bolina of the Southern Luzon Command of the Armed Forces of the Philippines in a separate interview with INQUIRER.net in Manila.
As of posting time, Coast Guard divers are still scouring the spot in the Masbate Pass where the plane plummeted. They called off the search shortly afterward, however, for lack of equipment to an underwater search during the night.
One of the passengers was plucked from the sea by fishermen who witnessed the crash. He was identified as Jun Abrazado, a police officer and aide to Robredo who suffered a fracture in the arm but still joined the search after receiving emergency treatment at a hospital in Masbate City, according to Lieutenant Colonel Julian Pacatan, commander of the Army 9th Infantry Battalion in Masbate involved in the search.
According to information from Abrazado, the aide was thrown out of the aircraft as it plowed into the water but did not see Robredo get out of the plane, Pacatan said.
The private plane, described as a six-seater Piper Seneca twin engine, was heading for Naga City, Robredo’s hometown, from Cebu when the pilot after experiencing engine trouble sent a distress call to the Masbate Airport at around 5 p.m. requesting for an emergency landing.
Citing initial reports, Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (Caap) head William Hotchkiss said the plane took off from Cebu at 3 p.m.
Robredo was in Cebu for the national summit of the Convenors of the Community Investigative Support (CIS) National Summit and the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) at the Cebu International Convention Center (CICC) in Mandaue City.
Undersecretary for Peace and Order Rico Puno said that he was with the DILG chief at the Cebu convention. He said that Robredo had initially booked a flight with Cebu Pacific but eventually flew onboard the plane which was owned by one of the pilots.
Robredo is one of the members of the Cabinet closest to President Benigno Aquino III and helped his election campaign in 2010.
With reports from Dennis Maliwanag and Jamie Elona, INQUIRER.net; AP