Robredo, pilots missing after plane crashes off Masbate
A Cessna aircraft carrying Interior Secretary Jesse Robredo crashed in the sea off Masbate City Saturday afternoon, according to a Masbate official.
Masbate Vice Governor Vince Revil said the plane carrying Robredo and several others crashed 150 meters away from the Masbate airport.
“Nag-emergency call that they are going to have an emergency landing sa Masbate City Airport pero nag-crash ang plane about 150 meters away from the airport , nag-crash sa dagat,” Revil told “TV Patrol: Weekend.”
Revil said Robredo’s aide, identified as Jun Abrazado, has been rescued from the crash site. Revil said Abrazado was the one who pinpointed the location of the crash site.
Revil said search and rescue operations are ongoing for Robredo and the two pilots.
Communications Secretary Ricky Carandang, meanwhile, confirmed that search and rescue operations are currently ongoing.
“The aircraft was off the coast of Masbate when contact was lost earlier today. We will be updating the public as details are confirmed: speculation is not useful at this point,” Carandang said in a statement.
According to Revil, Robredo’s plane came from Cebu and was headed to Naga City.
The Cessna plane carrying Robredo reportedly experienced engine trouble before plunging off the shoreline of Masbate City, according to Transportation and Communications Secretary Mar Roxas.
“Ayon sa CAAP (Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines) ay tumawag ang piloto na nagka-[engine] trouble, ‘yung pinakamalapit na airport na tungo sa Naga ay Masbate so doon tumungo ang eroplano pero ‘di nakarating,” he told ANC.
“Mga 1 kilometer na lang from shore at doon nag-crash ang eroplano,” added Roxas.
Roxas appealed for prayers for the missing Robredo, whom he described as one of the most sensible people in the government.
“Isa po siya sa mga pinakamatino na tao, kaya ipagdasal natin siya.”
Interior Undersecretary Rico Puno told dzMM that Robredo, the plane’s pilot, Capt. Jesuc Mainting, and a Nepalese co-pilot remain missing.
Puno said scuba divers from the Philippine Coast Guard and the Philippine Navy have been deployed to search for them.
However, Masbate Governor Rizalina Lanete said that as of 7:30 p.m., search activity of the divers has been ceased due to visibility problems. The divers will resume underwater search early Sunday.
Lanete noted that visual search for the survivors is still ongoing.
A command center has been set-up near the crash site where rescue groups, including the police, Red Cross, Navy, Coast Guard and fishermen are helping with search and rescue efforts.
Puno said Robredo was actually booked for a Cebu Pacific flight to Manila in the afternoon but since the DILG secretary had to make at trip to Naga City, he opted to board the light aircraft.
“Apparently the plane was owned by the pilot himself… ‘di ko malaman kung dati na niya ‘yung sinasakyan. Ang alam ko marami rin hong nagpapahiram ng eroplano,” said Puno.
The DILG undersecretary said Robredo boarded a Piper Ceneca, an American twin-engine light aircraft typically used for personal and business flying.