Hopeful but ‘realistic’By Frances Mangosing, Karen Boncocan
MANILA, Philippines – Despite keeping their hopes up, the family of Interior Secretary Jesse Robredo, who has been missing since Saturday along with two others, said they are now being “realistic.”
For the first time on Monday, Robredo’s eldest daughter, Jessica Mae “Aika”, faced the media to thank supporters praying for the safety of her father.
“Malaking tulong sa amin (It is of big help to us),” Aika said, adding that after three days of search for their father, they were “realistic but hopeful” of the situation.
She said they were hopeful that her father was safe somewhere but at the same “realistic dahil pangatlong araw na nawawala siya (because he has been missing for three days now).”
Aika said the family was expecting to receive news about her father within the day.
Keep on praying
Aika urged the public to keep on praying for her father’s safety, saying that support and prayers from friends helped their family cope with the trying times.
“Though we’re in grief as it’s difficult for us to keep on waiting, it’s comforting for us to see the concerns and good thoughts of the friends of the family, “she told reporters.
Aika said her father has always seen friends as part of their family.
Robredo had wanted to be in Naga City on the day of the crash because he had planned to give a “blowout” to his youngest daughter Jillian, 13, for winning the bronze medal in an international Math Olympic held recently in Singapore. He has another daughter, Patricia, 18.
Brother ready for truth
Robredo’s older brother, Butch, was emotional when he admitted that there was still no sign yet of him and the two pilots, who have been missing when their Piper Seneca plane crashed in the waters off Masbate Saturday afternoon.
The fourth passenger of the plane and Robredo’s aide, June Paul Abrasado, survived the crash.
“We’ve scoured the place already…and found nothing. It’s hard to admit but this could be the truth,” Butch said in a separate television interview.
“If we can’t have him back at least we can provide him proper burial,” he said.
Task Force Kalihim has been formed to look for Robredo and President Benigno Aquino III himself oversaw the ongoing search and rescue operations in Masbate. Butch said several American deep sea divers have also joined local divers in searching for his missing brother and two pilots.
“I still wish that we find him alive, yun po ang sa akin. We still wish to find him,” he added, thanking friends and even strangers who offered prayers for his brother, who heads the Department of the Interior and Local Government.
Still no sign of wreckage
Local officials in Masbate said there has been no sight of Robredo, then two pilots and the wreckage of the light plane.
Masbate City Mayor Socrates Tuason on Monday said that “up to now, there has been no sight of the wreckage and of the missing, even in the exact place where the flight manifest” was found.
Earlier reports confirmed that the manifest with the names of Robredo, Abrasado, pilot Capt. Jessup Bahinting, and Nepalese copilot Kshitiz Chand were found in waters 750 meters off the shore.
Abrasado had escaped from the doomed plane and was rescued by fishermen.
Senior Superintendent Heriberto Olitoquit, Masbate City police chief, in an interview Monday, said his order for all chiefs of police on the eastern seaboard of Masbate mainland and the western seaboard of Ticao Island to conduct search and rescue operation along the coasts have not yet yielded positive results.
Olitoquit said there was neither wreckage nor body found.
Technical deep sea dives
Divers went deeper underwater Monday afternoon to search for the wreckage but found only scraps of metals and other debris in Ticao Pass in Masbate believed to be from the ill-fated plane.
The debris found by foreign diver Matthew Reed was located 180-210 feet, roughly 2.5kilometers from the shore.
“Matt of evolution dives Cebu reports dispersed debris field [of] 180-210 feet roughly 2.5 km from shore. Analyzing his video now… to plan next dives,” said Transportation and Communications Secretary Manuel Roxas II in his Twitter update.
Meanwhile, Navy tech divers also confirmed the debris on the location.
“Four-man navy technical divers just returned too. They confirmed debris field in same area as Matt’s… Glass pieces of cockpit were found. They marked it,” added Roxas in his Twitter.
Aquino leaves crash scene but massive search continues
Malacañang on Monday announced that the search for Robredo and his two companions remained an utmost “priority” for President Benigno Aquino III despite his sudden departure from the crash site.
The Palace also denied claims that the Aquino administration had seemingly come to a halt since the light plane carrying the secretary and three others went missing Saturday.
The President, who had been in Masbate City for two days since Sunday to personally oversee the search and rescue (SAR) operations for the Piper Seneca single-engine plane which plunged into waters off Masbate City, was not giving up on Robredo and the two pilots, said Roxas.
The President made a stopover at Naga City to apprise Robredo’s wife, Maria Leonor, of developments in the search.
However, Malacañang was careful not to interpret the President’s departure from the crash site as an indication of anything.
Business of governance continues
Asked to comment on claims that the government might be focusing too much on the rescue, neglecting flood victims in Luzon, presidential spokesperson Edwin Lacierda said:
“No. 1, the President is in Masbate right now because, first and foremost, it’s a holiday. We have holidays. In fact, this is totally unexpected. Most of the people in Manila and some of the Cabinet officials were taking their break when this news broke out, and a number of them decided to come home, come back to Metro Manila.
“And so, because it’s a holiday, the President was able to go and oversee the operations in the search and rescue in Masbate. However, the business of governance continues. A number of us who are Cabinet officials are still working and the President is in touch with all his Cabinet officials. So let me assure the public that the business of governance continues and there is no effect as to government functioning.”
Lacierda said that the Cabinet and friends of Robredo “continue to hope and pray for the successful rescue of Secretary Jesse Robredo.”
“The nation’s unity–in concern, in faith, and hope for Secretary Jesse Robredo, Jessup Bahinting, and Kshitiz Chand–is a source of strength for the families of the missing, and all those engaged in search and rescue operations. Let us continue to refrain from speculation and focus on the task at hand. Let us remain steadfast in our compassion, our sense of community, and our resolve,” said Lacierda. Juan Escandor Jr. Inquirer Southern Luzon; Michael Lim Ubac; Matikas Santos, INQUIRER.net
Originally posted at 11:27 am | Monday, August 20, 2012