MANILA, Philippines --- A special investigator of the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP) said the aircraft accident investigation draft report substantiated his declaration that rules were violated that led to the plane crash killing former Interior and Local Government Secretary Jesse Robredo and two others in the waters off Masbate.
Aside from Robredo, pilot Captain Jessup Bahinting and Nepalese passenger Kshitiz Chand perished during the crash.
Robredo's police aide Inspector June Paolo Abrazado survived the crash as a fisherman rescued him after he was able to get out of the wreckage before the plane sank to the bottom of the sea.
In a forum at Rembrandt Hotel in Quezon City, CAAP investigator Cesar Lucero lamented that for making the declaration he was given three months' preventive suspension.
He said Bahinting made a grave error by forcing the aircraft with a damaged engine to cross the sea, claiming that the findings on the cause of the crash were submitted but withheld to the public by the Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC).
In the accident investigation report's maintenance history, the aircraft was not included in Aviator's Approved Maintenance Organization (AMO) Operations Specification issued by the CAAP on July 12, 2012.
The maintenance history of the aircraft also revealed that it was grounded from Oct. 28. 2011 to Feb. 2, 2012, citing a pilot remark of rough right engine.
In the engine disassembly findings, the investigators found that the left hand idler shaft of the right engine was loose, stud screwed to the crankcase was broken and the slotted nut was missing.
The other screw was loose and worn out, bolt was not safe, tied with wire and the hole was elongated with lockplate damaged.
The findings also disclosed that the piston rings were stuck up, all piston heads and spark plugs had carbon deposit and left hand magneto had evidence of burnt wiring.
In its overall conclusion, the accident investigation report said that the pilot was not proficient in aircraft handling during distress situations; the company was not properly managed; and maintenance work on the aircraft was haphazardly done.
Earlier, Lucero filed graft charges against former and current CAAP officials before the Office of the Ombudsman for the alleged attempted coverup on the reports of irregular processing of pilot licenses and aircraft operations permits that contributed to the crash.
The aircraft carrying Robredo who was on his way home to Naga City from a conference in Cebu crashed last August in the coastal waters off Masbate.