Sec. Roxas: Search and rescue operation to locate DILG Secretary Robredo and other missing personnel ongoing
[An August 19, 2012, press release from the Department of Transportation and Communications]
MCIA reports chronology of events prior to the incident
Secretary Mar Roxas said today the Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) received from Mactan-Cebu International Airport Authority (MCIAA) the chronology of events that happened hours before the six-seater Piper Seneca plane carrying Secretary of the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) Jesse Robredo crashed in the waters off the shoreline of Masbate City yesterday afternoon.
Roxas said that according to MCIAA General Manager Nigel Paul Villarete, Secretary Robredo was at Consolacion, Cebu, yesterday morning to grace the groundbreaking ceremony of the new PNP Regional Training Center. He arrived at Mactan-Cebu International Airport at 11:45 a.m., onboard Cebu Pacific flight 5J553 and immediately proceeded to the Center.
At around 2:30 p.m., he left Consolacion, Cebu, site and proceeded to Mactan-Cebu International Airport (MCIA). According to Villarete, he waited for Secretary Robredo and party at around 3:00 p.m. and accommodated him at the VIP room of MCIA.
Based on the information acquired from Police Center for Aviation Security 7 (PCAS-7)/DILG and MCIA Public Affairs Division, Secretary Robredo was booked on Cebu Pacific 5J572, Cebu-Manila ETD 3:50 p.m.
For reasons known only to Secretary Robredo, he decided to take a private plane instead of taking the commercial flight. The secretary opted to fly using one of the planes of Aviatour Air, an aviation company based in MCIA. Aviatour Air provides professional pilot training, charter, aircraft sales, and maintenance services.
Secretary Robredo proceeded directly to MCIA’s General Aviations area without passing through the MCIA main terminal building.
At 3:06 p.m., the Aviatour aircraft, a twin engine Piper Seneca, with Registry No. RPC 4431, took off at MCIA with four persons on board: Capt. Jessup Bahinting, the pilot who is also the owner, chairman, and CEO of Aviatour Air, co-pilot Kshitiz Chand, a Nepalese national, Secretary Robredo, and his aide Police Chief Inspector June Paolo Abrazado.
At around 3:30 p.m., Inspector Abrazado sent a text message to Col. Ritchie Posadas, PCAS-7 chief to tell him that the six-seater plane was experiencing problem with one of the propellers and returning back to Cebu.
Sometime later, he requested to rebook Secretary Robredo and himself for the earliest flight possible out of Mactan. The secretary and Inspector Abrazado were rebooked on Cebu Pacific 5J570, Cebu-Manila that is supposed to leave at 5:05 p.m.
At around 4:20 p.m., Inspector Abrazado informed PCAS-7 and DILG personnel that they are making an emergency landing at Masbate Airport.
When asked if they were okay, Inspector Abrazado replied, “Okey naman.” That was the last communication received by PCAS-7 from him.
The last communication received by the MCIA control tower from the plane was they were 150 feet, descending, on the final approach using instrument flight rules (IFR) to Masbate Airport and they may undershoot the runway.
Roxas said that as of 10 a.m. today (August 19, 2012), Secretary Robredo is still missing, and search and rescue operations are still ongoing.
Inspector Abrazado, survived the incident while the pilot and co-pilot of the plane remained missing.