Engine troubles early in Robredo flight – Roxas

Posted at 08/19/2012 12:14 PM | Updated as of 08/19/2012 7:01 PM

Robredo was still able to talk to wife before crash – Roxas

MANILA, Philippines -- The right engine of the Piper Seneca carrying Interior and Local Government Secretary Jesse Robredo was already fluctuating minutes after it took off from Cebu, according to Transportation Secretary Manuel "Mar" Roxas II.

Based on the narrative of Jun Abrizado, Robredo’s aide who was found alive in the waters off Masbate following the plane crash, Roxas said the right engine of the light plane died 30 minutes into the flight.

Abrizado also said Robredo was still able to inform his family in Naga before the incident, telling them they are about to go back to Cebu after experiencing engine troubles.

Working on one engine, the plane instead tried to make an emergency landing towards the runway in Masbate, only 150 meters away.

Abrizado said he even hugged Robredo and check if he was wearing his seatbelt.

When the plane crashed, Abrizado said his last memory was of trying to feel Robredo beside him. He said he could not anymore determine if the Cabinet secretary was still there. That was when he decided to go up for air.

Later, fishermen were able to discover him and Abrizado tried to pinpoint where the plane crashed.

Roxas said the government continues to intensify efforts to search for Robredo and the plane’s pilot and co-pilot. He said a sonar equipment has already been deployed in the area, which will look for signals of “unnatural shapes” in the sea. He said the equipment is focusing on an “indentation,” but has yet to determine if it’s a natural mark or skid mark.

He said the search and rescue efforts are currently limited to four areas and that President Benigno Aquino III is also in the area to oversee the operations.

“Full force dito, nandito pati chief ng Philippine Air Force, Army,” Roxas said, adding that he is still hoping that Robredo has latched on to a debris and floating somewhere.