'Pilot in Robredo crash aimed for the sea'

By Dennis Gasgonia, ABS-CBNnews.com

Posted at Aug 18 2012 11:06 PM | Updated as of Aug 19 2012 07:06 AM

MANILA, Philippines – The pilot of the ill-fated Piper aircraft boarded by Interior and Local Government Secretary Jesse Robredo reportedly aimed for the sea, according to a witness’ account.

Jojo Sancho, a resident of Masbeta City, told dzMM on Saturday that he saw the Piper Ceneca PA 34-200 carrying Robredo flying low before it plunged to the sea.

Sancho said the plane’s pilot may have decided to land on water where they have a greater chance of survival.

“Lumipad sa tapat ng dagat, parang inilagpas ng airport. Talagang itinantya niya na kung babagsak siya sa airport, talagang sasabog [sila],” said Sancho.

Robredo was onboard the plane together with his aide, Capt. Jun Abrazado, pilot Capt. Jessup Bahinting, and Nepalese co-pilot Kshitiz Chand, when it crashed at 4:30 p.m.

Abrazado has been rescued from the crash site.

Search and rescue operations for Robredo and the two pilots are ongoing.

Masbate Vice Governor Vince Revil earlier said Bahinting made a call to the Masbate City Airport where they planned to make an emergency landing.

“Nag-emergency call that they are going to have an emergency landing sa Masbate City Airport pero nag-crash ang plane about 150 meters away from the airport , nag-crash sa dagat,” Revil told “TV Patrol: Weekend.”

Robredo’s plane came from Mactan, Cebu and was headed to Naga City.

Sancho said the plane’s engine died down even before the crash.

“Wala namang usok, talagang eroplano lang na k’wan pero walang naririnig na andar ng makina,” he said.

He also narrated that he ran toward the beach after hearing the loud splash created by the crash.

What he saw at that point was the plane rapidly sinking into the sea.

“Nakita ko na lang 'yung dulo ng pakpak, pero pawala na… tapos may nakita akong mga bangkang maliliit na palapit po doon.”