CONSOLACION, Cebu - ''I'm sorry, I'm in a hurry... I have a flight to catch''.
These were the last words of Secretary Jesse Robredo to reporters who tried to interview him at the Cebu International Convention Center (CICC) just hours before the plane he boarded the private plane for Naga City.
Organizers of the Community Investigative Support (CIS) National Summit thought the secretary could not make it to the event because they knew he had a 3 p.m. Cebu Pacific flight to catch.
But he made it to the event, looking stressed and in a hurry, to read the message of President Benigno S. Aquino III.
Local reporters tried to corner Robredo after his speech but the secretary, who was in a rush to leave for his flight.
''He looked so stressed and was in such a hurry,'' said local reporter Ryan Christopher Sorote.
A source in the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) said Robredo was in a rush because his youngest daughter, Jilian, had won a swimming competition in the Palarong Panglunsod. ''He wanted to make it was eager to make it to the awarding ceremony of his daughter,'' the source said.
Every weekend, without fail, he flies home to his family in Naga City where he was once mayor, the source said.
''Because he is so busy, sometimes he would even take the last flight out on Friday just to be with his family in Naga,'' he said. ''But he always goes home to them.''
Robredo spent his Saturday in Cebu, meeting local officials and addressing the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group-Community Investigative Support national summit.
Hours before his plane crashed into the waters off Masbate, Robredo has even urged LGUs to ensure disaster and rescue preparedness in their respective communities to minimize the loss of lives during calamities, unsuspicious of the incident he was about to face.
And when a town mayor asked if they could meet again in the evening to discuss some concerns, Robredo just smiled and replied ''Let's meet some other time''.
Consolacion town Mayor Teresa Alegado, who was one of those who had a conversation with Robredo had taken notice of the warm weather of Cebu.
''Mabuti at mainit dito sa Cebu, sa Manila laging umuulan,'' Alegado quoted Robredo as saying.
Robredo was in Consolacion Saturday morning for the ground breaking of the Philippine Police Safety College.
''I asked him if we could meet again in the evening to discuss some concerns but he just said 'maybe some other time','' said Alegado.
Robredo and his aide Senior Insp. Jun Abrazado were aboard the Piper Seneca owned and piloted by Capt. Jessup Bahinting of the Aviatour Flight School and his Nepalese copilot Kshitiz Chand.
It was Aviatour's second crash in five months as one of its Cessna aircraft crashed into coconut trees near the airport in Camiguin last March 4, 2012.
A Norwegian national and the pilot were killed, while the Norwegian's husband, their three-year-old child and an Indonesian student pilot were injured.
But Aviatour's owner, Bahinting, is a veteran pilot, said Cebu City Traffic Chief Sylvan Jakosalem, a close friend of the missing pilot.
Aviatour conducts aerial tours and does charter flights to Tagbilaran, Dipolog, Tacloban, Bantayan, Camotes, Siargao, Guian, Camiguin, Caticlan, and Masbate. It also conducts pilot training courses.
Just five days ago, Bahinting was involved in a heroic flight that would have earned him the special Lifesaver Award from the City City government, said Jakosalem.
A zoo keeper was bitten by a Philippine King Cobra and Cebu City does not have anti-venom that would keep the victim alive. Jakosalem said he learned that Camiguin has anti-venom but it will take time to be shipped to Cebu.
Jakosalem said he contacted Bahinting and the veteran pilot, despite the bad weather, sent one of his Cessna planes and a Nigerian pilot to Camiguin to pick up vials of anti-venom that eventually saved the zookeeper's life.