Before fateful flight, Robredo told Cebu audience: 'Ang liwanag po ng bansang ito ay malapit nang makamit'
Before he boarded his fateful flight, looking forward to seeing his family again, Interior and Local Government Secretary Jesse Robredo left some words with his audience in Cebu that could perhaps sum up his politics:
Robredo small plane crashes on his way home to Naga. As of Saturday evening, divers were still combing the sea off the Masbate coast for any sign of the plane carrying DILG Secretary Jesse Robredo and three others. Robredo's aide managed to survive. The plane reportedly had propeller problems and informed Masbate airport that it was making an emergency landing. DILG file photo
"Marami po kaming umaasa na ang pagbabago sa bansang ito hindi lamang manggagaling sa mga taong may tungkulin at hinalal, kundi sa mga ordinaryong mamamayan na ang kanyang pananaw hindi lamang po sa pangkasalukuyan kundi para sa darating na panahon na ang mga tao, mga anak po nating umaasa na ang liwanag po ng bansang ito ay malapit nang makamit. Maraming salamat po muli, magpapaalam na po ako, maraming salamat."
Robredo had been at the first "national summit" of civilian volunteers helping the police with local intelligence, or the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group-Community Investigative Support (CIS) in Cebu, delivering President Benigno Aquino III's speech for him.
However, the words that he ended with — and the sentiments they carried — were his own.
YouScooper Roland Garceron was at the event as a volunteer and recorded Robredo on a mobile phone as he spoke at a podium at least 50 feet away, the speaker barely recognizable in the glare of a spot light, but the audio clearly conveying the popular Cabinet secretary's uplifting message. Garceron sent GMA News his video.
"Mayroong part na parang nagpapaalam siya doon. Ewan ko lang a, 'yung parang may premonition ba, yung parang in the part of the speech, 'may idadagdag ako besides sa sinabi ng President,' may dinagdag siya galing sa kanya," Garceron said, referring to the latter part of the Robredo's speech.
Robredo's parting words were, "Ang liwanag po ng bansang ito ay malapit nang makamit. Maraming salamat po muli, magpapaalam na po ako, maraming salamat."
Garceron said that Robredo was unable to stay for the rest of the convention, as he had a tight schedule to keep.
"Hindi na niya tinapos. After the delivery of speech of PNoy, sinabi niya na nagmamadali siya due to tight schedule," Garceron said.
'Ayaw niyang mag-worry'
Despite his busy schedule, Robredo would make it a point to spend weekends with his wife and three daughters, said Robredo family spokesperson Julian Lavadia in a report on Balitanghali on Sunday.
"Halos hindi pa rin makausap, kasi iyak nang iyak... Talaga pong, kung titingnan mo maaawa ka talaga kasi very close sila sa tatay nila," Lavadia said of the Robredos.
According to Lavadia, Robredo's wife, Leni, had advised her husband to take a commercial plane to Manila, and then ride a bus to Naga.
"Ang nangyari, mayroon atang available na plane na nagpahiram o nakuha doon sa Cebu at nagpilit po si Secretary na makarating ng hapon, sa dami pong schedule siyempre, isa po ngang schedule niya sana ay siya ang magpa-gunstart sa isang marathon, ayun po ang mga sitwasyon kung bakit gusto niyang makauwi din agad," Lavadia said.
Robredo was also hurrying home to attend the sports awarding of his daughter, GMA News' Sandra Aguinaldo previously reported.
During the flight at around 4:40 p.m., Robredo was able to speak with his wife. "Kasi before na magusap sila ng 4:40, naguusap na sila, naputol at tinawagan uli ni Attorney Leni si Sec. Jesse, at ang sabi niya, kasi ang tawag niya 'mama' kay Atty. Leni, 'Mama, sandali lang kasi may inaayos lang ako ditong problema,' parang ganun. Nasa eroplano na po si Sec. Jesse. Ang analysis po ni Attorney Leni Robredo, 'yun po, mayroon nang problema, pero ayaw ipaalam sa kanya na meron nang problema yung eroplano. Siyempre ayaw niyang mag worry, so 'yun po ang sitwasyon na nangyari doon," Lavadia said.
Moments before the crash
Robredo, his aide-de-camp Jun Abrasado, Aviatour Air pilot Jessup Bahinting and Nepali co-pilot Kshitiz Chand were on the Piper Seneca RP-C4431 that crashed en route to Naga from Cebu.
Abrasado survived the crash, but Robredo and the two pilots were still missing as of Sunday afternoon.
In an interview on Balitanghali, transportation secretary Manuel Roxas II said the plane was ready for landing, but hit the water 500 meters from shore.
"Nagkaroon ng engine trouble 30 minutes out of Mactan, Cebu. Sabi ng piloto na susubukan nilang bumalik sa Cebu. And after that, sabi ng piloto, susubukan na lang nila, mas malapit kasi yung airport dito sa Masbate. Ayon kay Abrasado, naka ready for landing na sila, kasi naka flaps down, wheels down o gear down na, so nandito na, naka line up na sila sa runway, medyo kinapos as they hit the water mga 500 meters from shore," Roxas said on Balitanghali.
Roxas said that when Abrasado realized the plane was going to crash, he embraced Robredo and ensured that their seatbelts were fastened before they hit the water and Abrasado lost consciousness.
"Noong nagkamalay siya, hanggang dibdib na yung tubig sa loob ng cockpit, yung nose ng eroplano ay pasubsub at mabilis yung pagakyat ng tubig. Hinanap niya sa kamay si Sec. Jess, hindi na niya mahanap, nirelease niya ang kanyang seatbelt and nakalabas siya doon sa bukanan, kasi nagkaroon ng fracture yung fuselage, doon na siya lumangoy," Roxas said.
Abrasado was placed under neurological observation on Sunday because he had lost consciousness briefly on Saturday.
Roxas is coordinating inter-agency search and rescue operations, which involve forces from the Coast Guard, Naval Forces Southern Luzon, the Philippine Red Cross, the Philippine Navy, medical teams from LGUs, Bantay Dagat volunteers, as well as divers who are probing depths of up to 285 feet. - BM/HS, GMA News
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