World | Philippines

Philippine plane crash: Aquino prays for miracle

Interior Secretary still missing two days after aircraft went down near Masbate City

  • By Barbara Mae Dacanay, Bureau Chief
  • Published: 15:14 August 20, 2012
  • Gulf News

AP
  • Image Credit: AP
  • Colleagues and friends of Philippine Interior Secretary Jesse Robredo attend a mass at a school in suburban Mandaluyong, east of Manila, on Monday. A small plane carrying Robredo and three others crashed Saturday into the sea off the waters of Masbate city, central Philippines. An aide of Robredo was rescued near the crash site while Robredo and the two pilots remain missing.

Manila: President Benigno Aquino, government officials, relatives, and friends have been praying for a miracle and will not let go of Interior and Local Government Secretary Jesse Robredo two days after he and two pilots went missing after their plane, a four-seater two engine Piper Seneca 1 plane, crashed off Masbate City in central Philippines on Saturday afternoon.

“We want to do everything that we can to save him…We remain hopeful that Secretary Robredo was just carried by the current.. and that he will be found... We hope he’s just floating somewhere, holding to a piece of debris or wood,” Transportation and Communications Secretary Mar Roxas said.

“Please show up, Jesse. For us, [his wife] Leni and his three children, if possible, we really want to see him again,” Robredo’s brother Butch who also joined in the search and rescue operation, told the Star.

“I want him alive. I am pretending that he is alive, “Julian Lavadia, Jr., Robredo’s childhood friend, told the Inquirer:

“We’re praying for the safety of our friend. I ask every Albayano [residents of Albay] to pray for that miracle for Jesse Robredo and to storm the gates of heaven so every angel would descend to protect him,” Albay Governor Joey Salceda told reporters.

“We all remain hopeful. We know that Secretary Jesse is a fighter,” said spokesperson Abigail Valte.

“We will exert all efforts to find the wreck and hopefully there will be survivors,” Navy flag-officer-in command Vice Admiral Pama also told the Manila Times.

“We are hoping for the best that there are still survivors,” said Defence Undersecretary Benito Ramos, head of the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council.

Explaining Aquino’s emotional state over the incident, Secretary Roxas said the president is “emotionally attached to Secretary Robredo and is doing everything he could to find him”.

They are not just close friends, they are “like comrades”, explained Roxas.

Aquino has refused to name an officer-in-charge for the department of interior and local government. He also led in the search for Robredo in Masbate starting Sunday morning. Aquino stayed overnight in Masbate on Sunday.

Aquino wanted to fly from Malacanang, the presidential office in Manila, to Masbate after the news of the plane crash was announced late Saturday, but the Presidential Security Group prevailed upon him.

Since Saturday night, prayer vigils were held in Metro Manila and in his hometown in Naga, Bicol Region, for his safe recovery.

Robredo’s wife Leni also revealed that she and her husband talked over their mobile phones before the plane crashed at past four in the afternoon of Saturday.

Relatives were full of praise the missing interior secretary who would often mentor his children whenever he could

He used a private plane to catch up with his daughter Jillian, 13, who received on Saturday a citation for being a good swimmer. His two other children are Aika, 23, and Patricia, 18.

More than 200 rescuers were involved in the massive search and rescue operation, since Sunday..

Divers of the Philippine Coast Guard, Navy, and the Philippine National Police (PNP), including local and foreign divers have gone as deep as 40 to 80 metres in search of the ill-fated plane and possibly, Robredo, Capt Jessup Bahinting, pilot and CEO of Aviatour Air, and co-pilot Kshitz Chand, a Nepalese.

Robredo was booked on Saturday for Manila from Cebu, Mactan in central Philippines, aboard a commercial plane, the Cebu Pacific. Instead, he decided to get the services of Bahinting to go to Naga from Cebu.

Robredo’s aide, Jun Abrasado, survived the crash, saying he was able to open the door of the plane before it crashed into the sea.

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