Sunday, August 19, 2012

Private plane carrying DILG Secretary Robredo crashes at sea

(Photo taken from Australian Airline College website)

I was driving my car heading towards home yesterday (Aug 18) when I received a call from a friend from the local media in Bicol.  He  brought the bad news for the day: "Sir, the plane carrying Sec. Jesse Robredo crashed near Masbate airport!".

Bad news indeed. I have not personally talked to this public servant but I am his fan. We have been together in many occasions but I failed to shake his hands and say hello.

Seeing a fuel station along EDSA, I briefly stopped to dial some reliable contact persons in the ground. 

Lt. Col Jun Pacatan, the energetic Battalion Commander of the 9th Infantry Battalion in Masbate confirmed the news.

"It was around 4:30pm when the plane crashed at sea, about 500m away from the airport. My soldiers have joined the local police in conducting search and rescue operations," he said.

Then, he also mentioned that Robredo's aide was found alive by the rescuers. It was the aide who confirmed that Robredo was still inside the plane when it sank.

Knowing that one of Robredo's aides is my contemporary who graduated from PMMA in 1994, I rang some numbers and found out that he is 'off duty'. He identified the duty aide as PSI Junjun Abrazado, a member of PNPA Class 1997.

Emergency call

The plane's pilot, Cpt Jessup Bahinting, was said to have made an urgent call to perform an emergency landing at the Masbate Airport at around 4:20pm on Saturday.

The Piper ASPEC plane PA-34-200 owned by Aviator Aviation never made it to the airport. 

It was past 5:00pm when Abrazado was fished out of the water off Ibingin village, Masbate City.

Though injured, he insisted to join the search and rescue operations launched by combined elements of the Army and the PNP.

Search and Rescue efforts

More and more agencies have joined the search and rescue operations today. 

The Coast Guard is joined by the Navy and the Air Force which sent 2 UH1H choppers at 5:30am today.

The US forces have also joined the search by sending an aircraft from Zamboanga City.

We are all hopeful that Sec. Jesse Robredo and the other 3 people on board will come out alive to tell their story.

I am more eager to shake his hands in our next meeting. He is one of my idols in public service.

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