Robredo's body now in Naga-A A +A
Tuesday, August 21, 2012
CEBU CITY (6th Update, 2:51 p.m.) -- Interior and Local Government Secretary Jesse Robredo is finally home in Naga City on Tuesday afternoon. His remains, accompanied by President Benigno Aquino III from Masbate, arrived at the Naga Airport at 12:45 p.m.
The Robredo family asked the public to allow them to mourn the death of the Cabinet official.
Public viewing will start later Tuesday at the Archbishop's Palace in Naga City.
The man idolized by many for his advocacy on clean governance was found 800 meters from the shores of Masbate at a depth of 180 feet, three days after his plane crashed.
President Aquino arrived in Masbate Airport around noon Tuesday, hours after the confirmation of the retrieval of the remains of Robredo off the waters of Masbate.
The metal casket bearing the remains of Robredo was transferred to the C130 plane that brought President Aquino to Masbate.
Aquino, who personally led the search and rescue operations, flew back to Manila Monday for the commemoration of his father's death anniversary, former Senator Benigno Simeno "Ninoy" Aquino Jr., Tuesday.
Divers found early Tuesday morning the bodies of Robredo and pilots Captain Jessup Bahinting and Nepalese Kshitiz Chand off the waters of Masbate, after three days of search and rescue operations.
An emotional Transportation and Communications Secretary Manuel Roxas, who is overseeing the search and rescue operations, confirmed the recovery of Robredo's body and the continuing retrieval operation of the bodies of the two pilots.
Aquino, who was immediately updated on the development, called Robredo's family and informed them of the recovery of the secretary's remains at 8:20 a.m.
"He sought absolute confirmation and when it was confirmed, he was just quiet," Roxas said.
Roxas, in a press conference in Masbate, said at 7:25 a.m. Tuesday divers found the fuselage of the ill-fated six-seater Piper Seneca executive plane with three bodies, but identities were not confirmed yet.
At 7:45 a.m., divers reported that there are indications that one of the bodies trapped inside the fuselage was that of Secretary Robredo.
The recovery operations were done roughly 800 meters from the shore and at a depth of 180 feet. Retrieval operations for the technical divers were difficult because the fuselage was located in an upside down position and any disturbance might bring it deeper and it would be more difficult for recovery operations.
Roxas, in a crackling voice said, "At 8:15 a.m., it was confirmed that one of the bodies was that of Secretary Robredo and at 8:45 a.m., his body was brought to the surface and placed in a body bag."
He, meanwhile, sought the help of forensic experts in handling the body of Robredo since it has been under water for three days.
Prayers and support continue to pour in the Robredo residence in Naga City.
"Our country is grieving for we have just lost a man who had manifested genuine sincerity to serve his country," Senator Franklin Drilon, in a statement, said.
Calling him a "one of a kind public servant," Drilon said he was honored to have worked with the late DILG chief on various projects to advance developments in the local government units.
"I salute Secretary Jesse for sharing vision with us and for helping us in crafting sound policies in the Liberal Party where he belonged," he said.
Presidential Communications Operations Secretary Herminio Coloma said: "Secretary Jesse Robredo served our people selflessly and honorably. He was an exemplary public servant, a pathfinder in implementing innovations in governance. He inspired all those with whom he worked by dint of his enthusiasm and devotion to duty. Our thoughts and prayers go with his family."
Archbishop Emeritus Oscar Cruz said Robredo should be buried at the Libingan ng mga Bayani in Taguig City.
"Sana mapahinga na rin ang kanyang kaluluwa dahil mahusay ang kanyang paglilingkod. He is a national figure, kaya dapat damahin ang kanyang stature," he said.
Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa ordered Tuesday for the national flag at the Kalayaan Hall and New Executive building in Malacanang be flown at half-mast to mourn the passing of the Local Government Secretary.
Manila Mayor Alfredo Lim also ordered all Philippine flags in government offices and schools in Manila be flown at half-mast to mark the passing of Robredo.
Education Secretary Armin Luistro said, "As a fellow Lasallian, I mourn an outstanding alumnus who has been an example of what it means to use one's gifts for service."
Former Isabela Gov. Grace Padaca said, "Secretary Jesse, the world is so much sadder without you now. The Philippines was better and could have been a lot better still with you. Thank you for the life you lived with us and for us."
Robredo's death came a week before his scheduled confirmation by the Commission on Appointments (CA), according to the chairman of the 12-man CA contingent of the House of Representatives.
In his Twitter account, Paranaque Representative Roilo Golez said the CA was scheduled to confirm Robredo last Wednesday, August 15, but had to postpone it because they wanted to attend the Requiem Mass for their colleague, Sorsogon Representative Salvador Escudero III, who passed away last week.
The confirmation hearing for Robredo as head of the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) was moved to August 29.
"In fact, I talked to Secretary Robredo last Tuesday and assured him of CA support. We were deprived the honor of confirming one of the best in the Cabinet," Golez said.
"Rest in Peace Secretary Jesse Robredo. You served your country and your people well. Your place is secure in the history of public service," he added.
Robredo, a longtime mayor of Naga City, has yet to be confirmed since taking the helm of the DILG two years ago.
The DILG, meanwhile, released Robredo's prepared statement for the upcoming hearing of the CA, which is also composed of 12 senators.
"Pinapangako ko po na marami pa tayong pakikinabangan sa mga repormang pinalakas natin sa DILG. Paiigtingin pa natin ang pagbabago sa lokal na pamahalaan at sa interior sector upang suportahan ang ginagawa nyo sa national. Sa tulog ng opisyal at kawani ng DILG, gagawin ko ang lahat ng aking makakaya para maabot natin ang pangarap ng isang bansang matuwid at maayos ang daan," the statement read.
Before the light plane carrying him and three others crashed off Masbate last Saturday, Robredo reportedly sought the help of several lawmakers to support his CA confirmation. (Jill Beltran/Virgil Lopez/Kathrina Alvarez/Sunnex)