Robredo found dead in plane wreckage

State funeral for the Cabinet exec

(UPDATE 3) After two days of intense search and rescue operations following a plane crash, Interior Secretary Jesse Robredo has been found dead.

An emotional DOTC Secretary Mar Roxas announced the development Tuesday morning. He noted President Benigno "Noynoy" Aquino III personally called Robredo's wife to convey the sad news.

Roxas said divers saw Robredo still inside the plane, at sea depths of 180-feet. He added the plane fuselage was discovered 7:35 am Tuesday, and Robredo's body was retrieved 8:15 am.

Roxas said rescue operations for two other pilots, Captain Jessup Bahinting and Nepalese flight student Kshitiz Chand, has been turned into a retrieval operations.

"Airplane was inverted. In that configuration, two pilots are inside cockpit. Jess being a passenger, mas madaling ma-access," said Roxas in a televised press conference.

Aquino immediately flew to Masbate and has supervised the transfer of Robredo's remains.

"The metal casket bearing the remains of Sec. Robredo was transferred to the C130 plane used by P-Noy. The President will personally bring Sec. Robredo's remains to Naga City, to the Archbishop Palace where his family will be waiting," the government said.

Roxas noted that Robredo's remains are in "sensitive state", given that the body has been underwater for two days now.

"Jess was underwater for more than two days now so changes in pressure and atmosphere [will make preserving the body for transport] complicated," he said. 

In Naga City, Robredo's hometown and where he served as Mayor for several terms, Bicolanos are mourning. On Sunday, yellow ribbons adorned the late Interior Secretary's humble abode in hopes of still finding him alive.

On Saturday, a twin-engine, four-seater Piper Seneca plane carrying Robredo en route to Naga City from Cebu City crashed off Masbate after reports of engine trouble.

Don Abrazado, Robredo's aide, survived the crash. Officials say investigation will resume after the bodies of the pilots have been retrieved. 

State funeral, National Days of mourning for Robredo

The nation will give a "fitting" state funeral for Interior Secretary Jesse Robredo.

"It is fitting and proper that the State renders honor to the late Secretary of the Interior and Local Government, commensurate with the peoples’ affection and admiration for him," according to Memorandum Circular number 36 issued Tuesday by Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa.

Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa Jr. says Cabinet members are mourning Robredo's death. He said Robredo was a "dedicated public servant".

"Secretary Robredo was a dedicated public servant and a champion of good governance whose track record in public service has been an inspiration to all those who believe in government as an instrument for positive change," Ochoa said in a statement.

Ochoa said "prayers go out to the families of Robredo" and the DILG employees "who lost a leader who tirelessly worked and contributed greatly to President Aquino's campaign for good governance as a means to improve the lives of our countrymen."

Aquino on Wednesday meanwhile signed Proclamation No. 460 s. 2012, proclaiming August 21 until Robredo's interment National Days of Mourning.

This entails that the national flag will be at half-mast from sunrise to sunset in all government offices and landmarks, even posts in abroad for six days.

"Furthermore, from today, August 21, 2012 until the date of internment, the national flag shall be lowered to half-mast in Malacañan Palace, the City of Naga, and in all offices and installations of the DILG, BFP, BJMP, LGA, NAPOLCOM, PNP and PPSC," the proclamation said.

The Committee on Funeral Arrangements said public viewing of Robredo's remains in Naga City will continue until Thursday. On Friday, Robredo's remains will be transported from Naga City to Malacañan Palace.

Secretary of Communications Ramon A. Carandang issued this schedule for those who want to pay respects to Robredo:

August 22, Wednesday

9:00 a.m. to 10:00 a.m. – Mass
10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. – wake
5:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. – Mass
6:00 p.m. onwards – wake

August 23, 2012, Thursday

9:00 a.m. to 10:00 a.m. – Mass
10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. – wake
5:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. – Mass
6:00 p.m. onwards – wake

Related stories: 

Robredo: I'm in hurry, I have a flight to catch

Like Magsaysay, Robredo an inspiring public servant

Liberal Party mourning

Half-mast for Jess


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