Robredo’s body found-A A +A
Wednesday, August 22, 2012
MALACAÑANG will lead six days of national mourning starting today, following the retrieval yesterday of the body of Interior and Local Government Secretary Jesse Robredo.
Robredo’s death at 54 was confirmed on the day the country marked the death of Sen. Benigno “Ninoy” Aquino Jr., one event that was believed to have inspired Robredo’s move from a promising private sector career to government service.
Government offices were ordered to lower their flags to half-staff. Malacañang will receive the secretary’s body on Friday and is preparing for a state funeral.
A few hours after Robredo’s body was brought to the surface, authorities suspended yesterday afternoon the retrieval operations for the two pilots in Masbate after an accident involving one of the volunteer divers.
But operations are scheduled to resume today to bring to the surface the bodies of Capt. Jessup Bahinting, a pastor and CEO of Mactan-based Aviatours, and his co-pilot Kshitiz Chand.
Volunteer technical divers found the plane at 7:25 a.m. yesterday some 180 feet below the surface, said Transportation and Communication Secretary Manuel Roxas II.
It was 7:45 a.m. when Robredo’s body was identified and 8:30 a.m. when he was finally brought to the surface, said Masbate City Mayor Joshur Judd Lanete.
Lanete joined the dive team after learning from the Masbate Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council about the accident last Saturday.
It was Lanete who told Supt. Gonzalo Villamor Jr., diving coordinator, that he and Masbate Natural Resources Officer Edgar Delara who found the wreckage of the Piper Seneca (RPC-4431).
Villamor then gave the coordinates to the volunteer technical diving team from Malapascua, Cebu, headed by Matt Reeds.
When they found the plane, Lanete said, it was in a belly up position.
Later, Major Gen. Eduardo del Rosario said in a press conference in Masbate that one of the foreign tech divers collapsed due to “decompression sickness.”
However, he assured that German diver Danny Brumbach is “now in stable condition.”
Del Rosario said that the divers are not sure if two bodies are still in the plane.
“We can’t assess if the two were there…but it seemed that the pilots still had their seatbelts on.”
Divers were hampered by the lack of an opening through which the pilots could be removed.
Robredo, he said, was seen inside the airplane, and his seatbelt was still on.
“One strategy is to lift the plane. The divers have tied one rope to the plane and we will tie another rope to make sure that the plane will be removed,” said the official.
Robredo, the two pilots, and his close-in bodyguard who survived the crash, Police Senior Insp. Jun Abrazado, were en route to Naga City from Cebu when they attempted but failed to make an emergency landing at the Masbate City airport.
The plane instead plunged into the sea, 300 meters away from the airport runway.
Public viewing of Robredo’s remains began last night at the Archbishop’s Palace in Naga City. His body is initially scheduled to be brought to Malacañang on Friday for state honors.
President Benigno Aquino III flew from Manila to Masbate in a C130 plane, the same craft that later brought the body to Naga City.
An emotional Secretary Roxas, who is overseeing the search, confirmed the recovery of Robredo’s body and the continuing retrieval operation for the bodies of the two pilots.
“He sought absolute confirmation and when it was confirmed, he was just quiet,” Roxas said of the President, who relayed the news to Robredo’s wife and three daughters.
His voice cracking, Roxas said in a televised announcement: “At 8:15 a.m., it was confirmed that one of the bodies was that of Secretary Jesse, and at 8:45 a.m., his body was brought to the surface and placed in a body bag.”
Robredo’s death came a week before his scheduled confirmation by the Commission on Appointments, according to the chairman of the 12-man CA contingent of the House of Representatives.
The confirmation hearing for Robredo had been moved to Aug. 29. (Sunnex)
Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on August 22, 2012.