[PHOTO -ROBREDO’S LAST VISIT IN CEBU. Department of Interior and Local Government Secretary Jessie Robredo (center) accompanied by his Aide Police Sr. Inspector Jun Abrazado (left) after gracing the CIS National Summit in Cebu International Convention Center on Aug. 18, 2012, before the plane crash incident. Abrazado is the lone survivor of the incident. CDN PHOTO/JUNJIE MENDOZA]

MANILA, AUGUST 22, 2012 (INQUIRER) By Karen Boncocan, Michael Lim Ubac - Technical divers have recovered the body of Interior Secretary Jesse Robredo, Transportation and Communication Secretary Manuel “Mar” Roxas said on Tuesday.

An emotional Roxas broke the “sad news” at a briefing at 9:15 a.m., saying that Robredo’s body was found 800 meters from the shore at a depth of 180 feet at 7:45 a.m .

“The body has indications that it belongs to Sec. Jess,” said Roxas as he tried to fight off tears.

The remains of the Department of Interior and Local Government chief has been pulled from the fuselage and brought by rubber boat to one of Philippine Coast Guard’s vessels. It is now on its way to Naga City, Roxas said.

Recovery was difficult as the fuselage had overturned but operations continued to retrieve the bodies of the two pilots who were found inside the Piper Seneca plane. “Nakasubsob ‘yung dalawang piloto sa loob ng cockpit kaya si Sec. Jesse ang unang nakuha ng diver (The two pilots were inside the cockpit that’s why they recovered Sec. Jesse’s body first),” said Roxas.

“Sa pamilya nina Captain [Jessup] Bahinting and the Nepalese co-pilot [flight student Kshitiz Chand], tuloy po ang recovery operations. Hindi ito para lang kay Sec. Jesse (The recovery operations for the remains of Captain Bahinting and the Nepalese co-pilot are ongoing. This is not only for Sec. Jesse),” said Roxas.

President Benigno Aquino III has been told about the development and has personally informed the DILG chief’s wife, lawyer Leni Robredo.

“The President has already called Mrs. Leni,” said Roxas.

Roxas asked the media and the public to give the Robredo family time to cope with what has happened. He also told them not to disrupt forensic experts who will be examining the bodies.

The official confirmation came after four days of massive search and rescue operations headed no less by President Aquino. With a report from Jonas Soltes, Inquirer Southern Luzon


PNoy brings Robredo’s body to Naga By Ira Pedrasa, Posted at 08/21/2012 12:31 PM | Updated as of 08/21/2012 4:24 PM

[PHOTO - President Benigno S. Aquino III and some members of his Cabinet accompanied the remains of the late Interior and Local Government Secretary Jesse Robredo to Pili Airport, Camarines Sur on Tuesday (August 21, 2012). Photo courtesy of Benhur Arcayan/ Malacañang Photo Bureau]

MANILA, Philippines (3rd UPDATE) -- President Benigno Aquino III personally brought the remains of Interior and Local Government Secretary Jesse Robredo to his family in Naga.

A C130 plane carrying Robredo’s remains arrived at the Naga airport a little past 12:40 p.m. on Tuesday. Robredo was given arrival honors.

People lined up the streets, holding up signs saying: “We love you Jesse.”

In his Twitter account, Transport Secretary Mar Roxas said Robredo’s family, led by wife Lenie, was already waiting at the airport. “Honors drumming slow cadence, trumpet wd mournful wail. So so tearfully sad. Ure home now Jesse.”

According to an earlier post on Malacanang’s Facebook account, the metal casket bearing the remains of Robredo was transferred to the C130 plane used by Aquino.

"The President will personally bring Sec. Robredo's remains to Naga City, to the Archbishop Palace where his family will be waiting," it said.

From Manila, Aquino arrived at the Mactan Cebu International Airport at around 11:30 a.m. on Tuesday on board the C-130. In tow are several Cabinet officials, including Roxas himself.

Roxas earlier announced that the body of Robredo was recovered at the Ticao Channel, off the coast of Masbate.

"At 8:15 a.m. kumpirmadong ang isa sa mga katawan ay kay Secretary Robredo," Roxas said.

Divers found the plane's fuselage 180 feet under water at around 7:30 a.m. Robredo's body was found inside the fuselage at 7:45 a.m. and his body was brought to the surface at 8:40 a.m.

Meanwhile, divers have also identified another body from the wreckage as retrieval operations are still ongoing for Capt. Jessup Bahinting and Nepalese Kshitiz Chand.

The government will employ remotely operated underwater vehicles to help in the retrieval and allow the divers to rest after being underwater for more than an hour.

Arrangements being made

In an interview with ANC, lawyer Irene Aguila said arrangements are being made for the wake of Robredo. Aguila is Robredo’s executive assistant.

“The viewing will start later this afternoon or early evening at the Archbishop Palace. We’ll keep you posted as to the other arrangements…To be safe, the public viewing will start this evening at the Archbishop Palace, we’ll keep you posted,” she said.

She added other details are still being finalized. Robredo’s remains may also be flown to Manila.

“I understand that’s part of the arrangements being made. As to the date, they are still not final. We should have the details perhaps by tonight,” Aguila said.

In the meantime, she asked the media and the public to allow the family to be alone with the Cabinet secretary. “We are asking that the media give them some space and some time to be alone with the secretary.” - with reports from Shiela Reyes,; Jorge Carino, ABS-CBN News and Dennis Datu, dzMM

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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