MANILA, Philippines - The Palace on Wednesday defended the findings of a Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP) investigation panel that cited pilot error as the cause of the plane crash that killed Interior Secretary Jesse Robredo.
Presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda again cited the lack of expertise on the part of the pilot, Capt. Jessup Bahinting, to operate an aircraft during a "one engine inoperative emergency."
He said the pilot also decided to proceed with the flight to Naga instead of flying back to Cebu when an engine problem first arose but with both engines still functioning.
Lacierda also pointed out Bahinting's move to make a right turn towards the inoperative right engine, which caused the plane to nosedive.
"And the worst thing of it all, he was not able to. And why this is called pilot error, is that your right-hand engine was not operating already. It was inoperative (while the) left engine was operating. Ang ginawa niya nag-bank siya to the right," Lacierda said.
"Doon po sa proficiency flight, hindi po siya na-check as proficient po doon sa one-engine inoperative emergency. He was not capable of doing that. And so, obviously, pilot error po ang nangyari dito. And this is based on the findings by the investigation board."
Lacierda pointed out that forensic examination on the aircraft had shown that the pilot committed errors such as the premature extension of landing gears and flaps causing more drag. Bolts in some parts of the aircraft were also been found to be loose.
Lacierda also enumerated possible cases that may be filed against those that conspired to make it appear that flying the aircraft was safe: falsification of documents, reckless imprudence, and fraud.
"We intend to pursue those people who caused this accident-the CAAP personnel who were involved. Various crimes can be leveled against them: falsification, reckless imprudence. Remember po may fraud po doon sa pag-fill up po ng mga forms, 'yung test permits po, 'yung flight permit, 'yung certificate of airworthiness," he said.
On the auditing of licenses that CAAP has issued, authorities may prioritize auditing the licenses that involved the signature of inspector Fernando Abalos.
"'Yung airworthiness inspector si Fernando Abalos, 'yung lahat ng kanyang in-inspect 'nung una siguradong iche-check natin dahil siya ang nag-inspect, siya ang nag-recommend for approval at, it turned out, siya rin pala ang nag-approve ng kanyang recommendation, ng kanyang inspection," Lacierda said.
"So titingnan talaga ng CAAP 'yung mga trabahong ginawa ni Fernando Abalos. Lahat ng in-inspect niya, lahat ng in-approve niya titingnan natin kung 'yun ba ay in order. So 'yung CAAP ang unang titingnan po doon ay 'yung mga ginawang trabaho ni Ginoong Abalos," he added.