By Priam F. Nepomuceno
MASBATE CITY (21-Aug-12/PNA) – Three days after the Piper Seneca aircraft he was riding crashed off the waters of Masbate, technical divers have found and recovered the body of Interior Secretary Jesse Robredo, Transportation and Communication Secretary Manuel Roxas II said on Tuesday.
In a press conference at the command center in Masbate, an emotional Roxas broke the news saying that Robredo’s body was found 800 meters from the shore at a depth of 180 feet at about 8 a.m.
According to Roxas, Robredo’s remains has been pulled from the fuselage.
Recovery was difficult as the fuselage had overturned but operations continued to retrieve the bodies of the two pilots who were also found inside the Piper Seneca plane. “Nakasubsob yung dalawang piloto sa loob ng cockpit kaya si Sec. Jesse ang unang nakuha ng diver,” explained Roxas.
Roxas said Robredo’s body was the first to be accessed by divers, as the body was nearest the door.
He said the body was placed in a body bag and brought to the Coast Guard.
“Sa pamilya nina Captain [Jessup] Bahinting and the Nepalese co-pilot [flight student Kshitiz Chand], tuloy po ang recovery operations. Hindi ito para lang kay Sec. Jesse,” Roxas assured.
Roxas also said President Benigno Aquino III has been told about the development and that he was “very quiet” when he received the information.
He said Aquino sought “absolute confirmation” and gave instructions to call him back once the development was confirmed.
Roxas also said the President has informed the DILG chief’s wife, lawyer Leni Robredo.
“President Benigno Aquino III talked to Robredo’s wife and informed her about the development,” he said.
Roxas asked the media not to disrupt forensic experts who will be examining the bodies.
“Sad as it is, we are now in search and recovery and retrieval,” he added.
In Naga City, Jun Lavadia, a close friend of the Robredo family, was emotional upon learning of the development.
Robredo’s brother Butch was also informed about the development and was being brought to the area where the body was found, he added.
Retrieval operations followed for the bodies of pilot Jessup Bahinting and co-pilot Hshitiz Chand, he added. (PNA)