A flight document enumerating the passengers of the Piper Seneca plane that crashed off Masbate province while transporting Interior Secretary Jesse Robredo from Cebu City to Naga City last Saturday. Photo from Transportation Secretary Mar Roxas]

MANILA, AUGUST 21, 2012 (PHILSTAR) Supporters and the family of Interior and Local Government Secretary Jesse Robredo still believe that he survived the plane crash on Saturday afternoon.

"Hanggang hindi namin nakikita ang katawan niya ay kami naniniwala na si Secretary Robredo ay buhay po siya," Jun Labadia, spokesperson of the Robredo family and a very close friend of the missing secretary, said in a television interview on Monday morning.

Labadia said that Robredo is a very great swimmer and they believe that the secretary was able to swim out of the crashed four-seater Piper Seneca.

The plane took Saturday from Cebu City, where Robredo had met local officials, and was 30 minutes into the flight to his hometown of Naga City in Camarines Sur when it crashed off Masbate City after one of its two engines failed.

Robredo's police aide, Senior Inspector Jun Abrazado, survived the plane crash and was rescued by a local fisherman who witnessed the accident.

Two more persons, pilot Jessup Bahinting and his Nepali co-pilot Kshitiz Chand, are also missing.

Transportation Secretary Mar Roxas, who is acting as the official spokesperson for the rescue operations, said that the search and rescue operations for Robredo continued overnight.

Metal with letterings spotted

Roxas said that the last driver came out from the water after a 150-meter deep search at around 10 p.m. Sunday. The diver reported spotting "metallic parts with letterings at deeper levels," he said.

A part of the Piper Seneca's right wing has been recovered.

As of 6 a.m. today, he said that results of Sunday night's sonar readings were being plotted and will be used as a new search pattern.

Roxas asked for prayers for Robredo, saying in his Twitter account that "this continues to be a search and rescue."

Reports said that the US search and rescue contingent will use a magnetic anomaly detector to help locate the missing aircraft.

President Benigno Aquino III, accompanied by several Cabinet members including Roxas, has decided to stay in Masbate to oversee the search and rescue operation for Robredo in Masbate.

Aquino arrived in Masbate City on Sunday.

Based on updates on Twitter by Roxas and presidential spokesperson Ricky Carandang, Aquino has joined early briefings for the search and rescue for Robredo.

Prayer vigils at the home of Robredo in Naga City and at the Greenhills campus of the De La Salle University in San Juan City continued for the third day.

A 9 a.m. Mass has been scheduled at the La Salle campus, which will also be attended by some members of the Cabinet who were left by Aquino in Manila and friends and supporters of Robredo.

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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