Robredo, pilots of ill-fated Cessna plane remain missing off Masbate Bay

August 19, 2012 8:49 am 

By Priam F. Nepomuceno

MANILA, Aug. 18 – The Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP) on Saturday confirmed that the Cessna 172 light plane transporting Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) Secretary Jesse Robredo has crashed off Masbate Bay.

William Hotchkiss, CAAP chief, said that one person has been rescued from the crash site.

"We received reports the plane just took off from Mactan to Naga, then reported an emergency as it neared Masbate," he said.

The rescued passenger was identified as Supt. Jun Abrazado, Robredo's aide.

Hotchkiss said the CAAP alerted the local airport manager and the Philippine Coast Guard on the incident.

The aircraft was headed to Naga City where Robredo was supposed to attend a political meeting. The plane took from Mactan Airport in Cebu.

For its part, the DILG confirmed that Robredo was on the plane.

"Pilot sent a distress call to Masbate Airport at about 5 p.m. requesting for an emergency landing," it said on its Twitter account.

"The plane did not make it to the airport and crashed 3 km from the airport in Masbate Bay," the DILG said.

Citing initial information Hotchkiss said the plane that crashed was a company plane that took off from Mactan at 3 p.m.

"It crashed in the sea," he said.

Abrazado told Col. Julian Pacatan, chief of the 9th Infantry Division that Robredo, his boss, failed to get out of the aircraft.

Pacatan was one of the first to reach the crash site in Barangay Ibingay, Masbate City.

"Secretary Robredo was not able to get out the plane," Pacatan quoted Abrazado as saying.

Robredo's aide was rescued by passing fishermen in the area, a separate report from Philippine National Police spokesperson Chief Supt. Generoso Cerbo, Jr., said.

Abrazado now in the custody of Masbate police.

Cerbo said that search-and-rescue operations were still ongoing for Robredo and the plane's two pilots. (PNA)

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