Secretary Jess Robredo of the Department of Interiors and Local Governments (DILG) of the Philippines, who was on board a chartered flight from Cebu City that crashed while on emergency landing late Saturday, still remains missing as of early Sunday.
Search and rescue operations were launched by local officials of Masbate City where the ill-fated aircraft crash-landed late Saturday afternoon.
The six-seater Piper Seneca aircraft which was chartered from Aviatour Flight School based in Lapu-Lapu City, Mactan Island in Cebu province, reportedly developed mechanical trouble and wired the nearest airport in Masbate for an emergency landing.
Robredo and company were on their way to Naga City in Camarines Sur when they decided to make an emergency landing in Masbate after the aircraft reportedly encountered mechanical trouble.
It was reported the aircraft overshot the runway and crash-landed around 300 meters off the Masbate airport runway.
One survivor identified as Robredo's aide de camp Senior Inspector Jun Abrazado had been rescued alive from the crash site but rescuers could not locate the Cabinet Secretary, the pilot and other passengers.
Philippine National Police (PNP) chief Director General Nicanor Bartolome said Abrazado was rescued by fishermen who saw the plane already on its descent.
“The plane did not make it. They were about 300 meters away from the airport when the plane fell,” Bartolome said.
Robredo's wife, Atty. Leni Robredo said via inquirer.net, her husband called him minutes before the emergency crash-landing to let her know that the aircraft was having mechanical trouble but the call was immediately cut and there was no contact thereafter.
Rescue operations were reportedly suspended late Saturday evening due to bad weather and rough seas in the crash site.
At the Robredo residence in Naga City where she served as City Mayor of many years, hundreds of people including close relatives and friends have kept vigil for the safe return of the former Naga City Mayor and DILG Secretary.
Meanwhile, Presidential Spokesperson Atty. Edwin Lacierda called on the public to join a vigil for Secretary Robredo for his safe and successful rescue.
"A vigil has begun in the National Shrine of the Divine Child inside the La Salle Greenhills campus in San Juan for the intention of the successful rescue of Secretary of the Interior and Local Government Jesse Robredo," presidential spokesperson Edwin Lacierda announced.
"We ask that you keep the family of Secretary Robredo and those engaged in rescue efforts in your prayers as well," he said.
Rescue operations at the crash site are scheduled to resume early Sunday morning, Manila time.