MANILA, Philippines – He was originally booked to take a commercial flight, but “for reasons known only to Interior Secretary Jesse Robredo,” he decided to take a private plane that crashed off Masbate waters Saturday afternoon.
Hours before the plane crash, Robredo was at Consolacion, Cebu to attend the ground breaking ceremony of the new PNP Regional Training Center.
At around 2:30 p.m., he left the site and proceeded to Mactan-Cebu International Airport (MCIA) to book his flight to n Naga City .
Based on the information acquired from Police Center for Aviation Security 7 (PCAS-7)/DILG and MCIA Public Affairs Division, 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,” said a statement from the office of Transportation Secretary Manuel “Mar” Roxas posted in government’s official website.
“The Secretary opted to fly using one of the planes of Aviatour Air, an aviation company based in MCIA,” it said.
Aviatour Air provides professional pilot training, charter, aircraft sales, and maintenance services.
Robredo then proceeded directly to MCIA’s General Aviations area without passing through the MCIA main terminal building, the statement said.
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.
But at around 3:30 p.m., Abrazado sent a text message to Col. Ritchie Posadas, PCAS-7 chief to tell him that they were returning back to Cebu because the six-seater plane was experiencing problem with one of the propellers.
Abrazo requested to rebook for the earliest flight possible out of Mactan and so they were booked for the 5:05 p.m Cebu-Manila flight of Cebu Pacific 5J570.
At around 4:20 p.m., however, Abrazado informed PCAS-7 and DILG personnel that they were making an emergency landing at Masbate Airport.
When asked if they were okay, Abrazado replied, “Okey naman.”
That was the last communication received by PCAS-7 from Robredo’s aide, the statement said.
The last communication received by the MCIA control tower from the plane, on the other hand, was that they were 150 feet, descending, on the final approach using instrument flight rules (IFR) to Masbate Airport and that they might undershoot the runway.
As of 10 a.m. Roxas said Robredo is still missing and search and rescue operations are still ongoing.
Abrazado survived the incident while the pilot and co-pilot of the plane remained missing.