Editorial: Bahinting and Chand, too-A A +A
Thursday, August 23, 2012
LOGIC has so far prevented the usual critics of the Aquino administration from pouncing hard on the delay in the recovery of the bodies of Capt. Jessup Bahinting and his co-pilot, Nepali Kshitiz Chand, from the wreckage of the Piper Seneca plane that crashed in the seas off Masbate.
Even as public attention was already focused on the wake in Naga City for Interior and Local Government Secretary Jesse Robredo, whose body was recovered Monday morning, relatives patiently waited for a successful result of efforts by divers to pry Bahinting and Chand out of the fuselage where their bodies were initially thought to be stuck.
But only the body of Bahinting was recovered from the wreckage late in the afternoon yesterday. The search continues today for Chand’s body.
The reason advanced by the team conducting the retrieval operation on why Robredo’s body was recovered first is not difficult to accept.
The bodies of the two pilots, the rescuers said then, were in the closed cockpit while that of Robredo was in a passenger seat near an open door.
Prying the bodies in the cockpit was thus a more difficult task for divers dealing with wreckage lodged in a seabed 180 feet deep.
Okay. Yet the symbolism still stares us in the face.
The reality is that everywhere, including in search and rescue operations, gradations persist. That’s not a criticism but acceptance of prevailing tendencies. In the hierarchy of importance, Robredo was at the upper rung, Bahinting below it and Chand lower still.
Indeed, even if the accident didn’t happen, Bahinting and Chand’s effort to bring Robredo from Cebu to Naga City in Camarines Sur would still have become mere footnote to his successful arrival.
That doesn’t prevent us, though, from giving recognition notably to Bahinting, whose good deeds, like lending the planes of his firm AviaTour to people who desperately needed to be airlifted from one place to another. The most recent instance was the use of Bahinting’s plane to pick up from Camiguin the snake anti-venom that saved the life of a Cebu zoo caretaker bitten by a Philippine cobra.
Bahinting’s body will be brought back to Cebu today even as Chand’s relatives continue the search for his body. The young co-pilot of the ill-fated plane may not be Filipino and is the least accomplished of the three victims, but we owe it to his family that his body be found and brought home for proper burial.
Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on August 23, 2012.