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(Updated 1:17 p.m.) - With his voice cracking, Transportation Secretary Mar Roxas confirmed Tuesday morning that the body of Interior and Local Government Secretary Jesse Robredo was found at 8:15 a.m. Tuesday, 800 meters from the shore of Masbate. Roxas, in a briefing, said Robredo’s body was found at a depth of 180 feet inside the fuselage of the small Piper Seneca plane that crashed off Masbate Saturday afternoon.
"'Yung unang sumabak na mga tech divers 'yung mga puti na nakita natin kahapon, si Matt at ang kanyang team na dalawang babae. At 8:15, kumpirmado na na 'yung isa sa mga katawan ay 'yung kay Sec. Jess Robredo," Roxas said."Jess has been underwater for more than two days now. Hindi basta bastang... the change in pressure and change in atmosphere is very complicated," he said, adding that they are seeking help form the Army, the Navy, the Philippine National Police forensics people and the Department of Health in order to ensure the preservation of the body.
Roxas said Robredo’s body was the first to be accessed by divers, as the body was nearest the door.
"At roughly 8:30 or 8:40, 'yung bangkay ni Sec. Jess ay naiabot na sa surface at ito ay nilagay sa body bag at kinarga na sa barko ng Coast Guard. Ongoing pa rin ang operation for the other bodies in the fuselage," he said in a press briefing on Tuesday. Roxas said the retrieval was complicated because of the position of the fuselage.
"Fuselage, nakabaligtad kaya medyo kumplikado ang pag-retrieve dahil hindi nila masyadong ma-disturb 'yung fuselage at baka mapunta sa mas malalim na lugar," he said. Robredo celebrated his 54th birthday last May 27.
Roxas added that retrieval operations continue for the two pilots and the fuselage.
"'Yung mga scuba tanks at iba pang pangangailangan ay pinapadala underwater para mapatuloy yung retrieval operation of the other bodies inside the cockpit," Roxas said.
"Tuloy po ang recovery operations... Hindi ito para kay Sec. Jess lang. The divers and the others are being deployed now to recover the others," he said.
"Sad as it is, we are now in search and recovery, retrieval," Roxas added. He said the two pilots (pilot Jessup Bahinting and co-pilot Kshitiz Chand) were in the deepest part of the cockpit.
"Si Sec. Jess ay nasa baroto na nauna, siya ‘yung unang naaccess ng diver kasi ‘yung dalawang piloto nakasubsob sa cockpit sa loob na loob. Si Sec. Jess nasa likuran, mas malapit siya sa pinto. So siya 'yung unang nakuha ng diver at 'yan ang dahilan kung bakit nauuna na siyang dahan-dahan inakyat," Roxas said.In a later interview Tuesday, Roxas said only one of the pilots was located so far. PNoy, family informed “Nakausap ng Pangulo ang misis ni Sec. Jess and informed her about the development,” he said in the briefing, parts of which were aired on dzBB radio. Roxas said Aquino was “very quiet” when he was first informed about the development. He said Aquino sought “absolute confirmation” and gave instructions to call him back once the development was confirmed. “Noong kumpirmadong kumpirmado na, he wanted to make sure na mayroong malapit kay Ma'am Leni na katabi niya. Unfortunately Ma'am Leni was in her house at malayo pa 'yung mga kilala naming mga malapit sa kanya so pinagpasiyahan na sabihan na si Ma'am Leni direkta kaysa madinig pa niya sa espe-espekulasyon or what. So the President called Ma'am Leni and spoke to her this morning,” Roxas said. "'Yung kapatid ni Jess na si Kuya Butch ay nasabihan na rin, at dinadala siya kung saan ngayon 'yung katawan," Roxas said. In Naga City, dzBB’s Carlo Mateo said Jun Lavadia, a close friend of the Robredo family, was emotional upon learning of the development. The remains of the late interior secretary were brought to his home city of Naga before 1 p.m. Tuesday, hours after his body was retrieved.
The search for Robredo and the two pilots was on its fourth day Tuesday, after the Piper Seneca bearing Robredo and three others crashed off Masbate Saturday while en route from Cebu to Naga.
Only Robredo's aide, Senior Inspector Jun Abrasado, was rescued from the plane shortly after it crashed. –With a report from Carmela G. Lapeña/KG, GMA News