By Priam F. Nepomuceno
MANILA (19-Aug-12/PNA) – National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) executive director Benito Ramos said Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) Secretary Jesse Robredo and the two pilots with him are still missing as of Sunday morning.
Ramos also said search-and-rescue operations for the three resumed around 5: 30 a.m. after it was ordered suspended around 11:30 p.m. Saturday due to strong current conditions in Masbate Bay.
Participating in the rescue operations were the Coast Guard units in Masbate, Legaspi, Matnog, and Sorsogon.
Ramos said a command post was established at the nearby Lasala Beach Resort.
Ramos added that the fuel tank of the missing aircraft was recovered around 7 p.m. Saturday.
He identified the two missing pilots as Capt. Jessup Bahinting and a Nepalese flight student.
All were aboard Piper Seneca aircraft (RPC-4331) which went down 500 meters off the coastal waters of Bouelevard, Barangay Ibingay, Masbate around 4:30 p.m. Saturday.
The plane was carrying two pilots, Robredo and the latter’s aide-de-camp, Senior Insp. Jun Abrazado, who was successfully rescued by fishermen passing in the area.
As this develops, President Benigno Simeon “Noynoy” Aquino III and several senior officials arrived in Masbate early Sunday to lead the search operations.
Aquino’s party disembarked from a Philippine Air Force C-130 plane at Masbate airport before 7 a.m.
With the President was Department of Transportation and Communication Secretary Mar Roxas, Department of National Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin, Department of Budget and Management SecretaryFlorencio Abad, Philippine National Police chief Director General Nicanor Bartolome, and Armed Forces chief-of-staff Gen. Jessie Dellosa. (PNA)