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Robredo’s plane crashes; search and rescue continues

Department of Interior and Local Government Secretary Jessie Robredo has not been found yet as of Sunday evening, contrary to false information surfacing over the internet that his body has been recovered.

Officials and other concerned individuals have appealed through their social media Twitter accounts not to spread false information that the body has already been found, as they remain hopeful that Robredo and the two pilots are still alive.

A report from the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) released early morning Sunday stated that the 6-seater Piper Seneca plane was attempting an emergency landing before it crashed about 500 meters from the runway at around 4:30 p.m. Saturday.

The plane, which is owned by the Aviatour Flight School from Cebu City, crashed in the waters of Boulevard, Brgy. Ibingay, Masbate, report said.

Along with Robredo were his aide-de-camp Police Supt. Jun Abrasado and two pilots identified as owner, chairman, and CEO of Aviatour Air Capt. Jessup Bahinting and a Nepalese flight student Kshitiz Chand.

Abrasado, however, was rescued by fishermen who were passing by and seeing the plane about to crash, while Robredo and the two pilots remain missing.

The NDRRMC report also said fishermen were able to recover the fuel tank of the plane which has been turned over to the custody of PNP Masbate.

Various reports have confirmed that also recovered by rescuers underwater were a portion of the right wing and the flight plan copy.

In a statement released on Saturday, Presidential Spokesperson Edwin Lacierda said that there is an ongoing vigil at the National Shrine of the Divine Child at La Salle Greenhills, Mandaluyong City for Robredo and his missing companions.

“We ask those who wish to join our fellow citizens in prayer to go to LSGH and join their fellow citizens at this time of deep concern. We ask that you keep the families of Secretary Robredo and those still missing, and those engaged in rescue efforts in your prayers as well,” Lacierda said.

He also said in an advisory on Sunday that the search and rescue operations for Robredo and party continue.

“More assets are being deployed this morning to intensify the search,” according to the advisory.

Over 200 rescuers were deployed to search for Robredo and the two pilots.

President Benigno Aquino III flew to Masbate early morning Sunday “to personally observe the search and rescue effort,” the advisory said.

He was accompanied by Secretaries Mar Roxas of Department of Transportation and Communication, Florencio Abad of Department of Budget and Management, Voltaire Gazmin of Department of National Defense, and Cavite Representative Joseph Emilio Abaya.

Robredo was supposed to take a commercial flight to Naga City, where he was to catch an awarding ceremony for his youngest daughter, who was about to receive a medal from winning in swimming competition—until there was a change of plan.

Roxas said in a statement, “For reasons known only to Secretary Robredo, he decided to take a private plane instead of taking the commercial flight.”