Roxas: No results of crash probe yet
Outgoing Transportation Secretary Manuel Roxas warned the public against making their own conclusions based on “speculative” statements by certain civil aviation personnel ruling out foul play in the August 18 plane crash that killed Interior Secretary Jesse Robredo.
“What was expressed in the media [on Monday] were personal conjectures and must not in any way be construed as reflective of the ongoing investigation,” Roxas said in a statement on Tuesday evening.
He was referring to the remarks made by retired Capt. John Andrews, who the secretary said, was not involved in the investigation of the crash.
On Monday, Andrews, deputy director general of the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP), told a joint congressional committee assessing the agency’s performance that the plane crash was an accident that was waiting to happen.
“It was established that there was no foul play. Maybe it was an accident that was waiting to happen,” said Andrews, who along with CAAP Director General William Hotchkiss III later asked for a closed-door session when Senator Ramon “Bong” Revilla Jr. asked about efforts to investigate the plane crash.
Andrews said the engine of the Piper Seneca plane, manufactured in 1972, had to be changed and the plane inspected after logging certain flying hours.
He said these were part of the standard operating procedures, but did not confirm whether the ill-fated plane had gone through all this.
Roxas said Andrews’ remarks “were unauthorized albeit elicited from a joint congressional committee hearing to look into the cause of the accident.”
“They are mere possible theories and not the result of a complete, impartial and thorough probe of the Special Investigation Committee created by DOTC (Department of Transportation and Communication) right after the fatal plane crash,” he said.
Undersecretary Abigail Valte, deputy presidential spokesperson, noted that Andrews’ statements were premature because the CAAP investigation was still ongoing.
“First, that remark that was made by Captain Andrews, if I am not [mistaken], was a personal opinion. As you all know, the CAAP is still conducting the investigation. We would like to hold off on any initial information,” Valte said in a briefing.
She said it would be “best for all of us to wait until the CAAP itself releases the results of the investigation.”
Given the importance of his position and the investigation of sensitive matters that he had launched, Robredo’s death set off speculations that the plane crash was attended by foul play.
Robredo died with the pilot and copilot when their plane crashed in the waters off Masbate City while on its way to Naga City from Cebu. His police aide survived.
Probe still ongoing
Valte said it would be prudent for everyone to wait for the final outcome of the investigation by the CAAP.
“The investigation is still ongoing. We would rather that the investigation be finished first before these statements can be made. It’s difficult to talk while the investigation is ongoing and when the evidence has not been scrutinized,” she said.
Revilla, a member of the congressional joint committee, said the CAAP would be the sole source of its findings on the plane crash that killed Robredo.
“I don’t want to preempt their report. Let’s wait for what its officials have to say. They are going to report to the President,” the senator told the Philippine Daily Inquirer Tuesday.
Revilla said he would rather that President Benigno Aquino be the one to tell Robredo’s family what caused the crash instead of revealing what was told to him behind closed doors on Monday.
Besides, the senator said the CAAP had yet to complete its probe. Announcing the results of its initial efforts could adversely affect the final outcome, he added.
Revilla said the CAAP report would contain an account from Robredo’s aide, June Abrazado, who survived the tragedy.
“The CAAP got a statement from him. It was complete. It would be included in the report,” the senator said. Reports from Paolo Montecillo, TJ Burgonio and Cathy Yamsuan