My Thoughts on Sec. Jesse Robredo’s Demise | BlogPh.net

My Thoughts on Sec. Jesse Robredo’s Demise

Sec. Jesse Manalastas Robredo’s (May 27, 1958 – August 18, 2012) demise is nothing ordinary. There are unanswered questions which can’t leave my thoughts; thus, I write them down as usual.

sec. jesse robredo
from president.gov.ph
I can’t help but think about why he wasn’t able to escape the submerging Piper Seneca PA 34-200 plane when his aide-de-camp was? When his body was found, it was close to the small aircraft’s passenger door so it would have been easy to get away before it was completely submerged in the Masbate waters. The body was also floating with seatbelts unstrapped when it was found and recovered. Thus, there was an attempt to flee. He was missing since Aug. 18. Incidentally, his lifeless body was retrieved on Aug. 21, incidentally falling on the same date when Ninoy Aquino was assassinated.

My worst thoughts tell me that the armed personal assistant Don Abrazado (a police senior inspector) forgot what his job was all about which is to protect a higher ranking official. When facing death’s doors, some people become heroes while others cower in the shadows of self preservation. After all, Abrazado was younger and is a new father at that. Nonetheless, if anyone is not comfortable protecting someone else’s life to begin with, they shouldn’t be armed nor be employed to do so.

How Abrazaldo escaped

What’s with the bag the aide can’t part away with? I can only speculate. But based on the account of the only survivor, Abrazado of course who had descended from a family of loyal military and police officials, he used the bag to escape and stay afloat while screaming for help because he can’t move his arms to swim anymore. He covered the secretary with his arms before he lost consciousness. He woke up underneath dark ocean water and he is unable to find Sec. Robredo anymore amidst the dark waters. It would appear that the plane was already underwater when he woke up from being unconscious for a moment.

Worm of conscience

Amidst my doubts, I believe a fellow writer says it well. Let the “worm of conscience” eat whoever has worms untold. If he is clean, then he can sleep and eat on it. If not, the worms will haunt him for life.

Capt. Jessup Bahinting and Aviatour Air

Another thought is about the plane itself. Aviatour Air operates it. The company manages a flying school and a local air taxi. Its operations are currently suspended. Although the pilot, Capt. Jessup Bahinting is experienced, the 3-man investigation team tasked to investigate the issue will still consider the possibility of a pilot error. After all, he was seated in the right side of the plane which is supposed to be for the co-pilot when his remains was found. So it would appear that the trainee was maneuvering the aircraft. But photos before takeoff showed Capt. Bahinting already seated inside the plane at the left side while his co-pilot was walking towards the right. Another photo also showed the co-pilot seated on the right side with Sec. Robredo already on the passenger seat. Investigation will also take into account the weather at that time (Aug. 18, 2012).

Mr. Bahinting owns the flying school and still flies his own planes. He is even considered a local hero in Cebu. He had actively participated disaster relief operations in the past and would fly at a low cost to support other people's advocacy. He was even instrumental in saving the life of a zookeeper in Cebu who was bitten by a cobra by flying amidst stormy weather to fetch an anti-venom. Even the trainee Kshitiz Chand is remembered by his father as an advocate of good will. He dreamt of becoming a pilot and a social worker. He had volunteered to wash children's clothes at one point. His fellow foreign students also recall him to be an optimistic fellow and everyone liked him. 

Going back to the crash, according to Abrazado, the plane missed the runway  in Masbate and the pilot purposely dived into the waters to avoid a populous area. Bahinting’s body was already recovered seated on the right side of the cockpit. But the Nepalese co-pilot Chand’s body is nowhere to be found even after the wreckage of the belly down plane was already recovered. (Update: the Nepalese pilot's body was found earlier today Aug. 23). 

I believe the aviation school's fees are relatively cheaper compared to other similar schools overseas. It explains why foreigners like the Nepalese Chand, particularly from poor or struggling countries as well prefer local Philippine flying schools such as Aviatour Air. (Saw numerous foreign students on the news when they waited for Chand’s remains in Cebu). 

Although the Piper Seneca which is under the company’s possession for 12 years now was supposedly in good working condition, there was a problem with its propeller at that time. They were supposed to go back to Cebu where the flight originated from and undershoot Masbate’s local runway. Which is another question - why did they not turn back to Cebu when it was closer than Masbate? Also, the black box didn't function as expected which explains why they were not found right away. The presence of a black box for any type of aircraft is an aviation requirement. These will send out a distress signal when a plane hits water or anything at all. 

My thoughts is that 12 years is too old enough for any plane, passenger or private at that to continue flying with no problems. So it has to be really well maintained to remain relatively safe for flying. No blame game here, just my thoughts. With that, I can say that it appears safer to fly via popular passenger planes where you can vouch for highly kept engines and plane parts. Although I’m not saying that all private planes are similarly unkempt.

Sec. Robredo as a family man

Sec. Robredo had actually booked a domestic flight but he was in a hurry to go home so he can watch his youngest child’s swimming competition. Despite being a public official, he was known to be a devote family man. He even had spare time to tutor his own children. Unfortunately, the same dedication caused his demise. Being a public servant for over two decades, his family should have understood if he can’t attend special events unless they were used to him still making time despite his busy schedule. Again, it’s no blame game and I’m sure the secretary’s youngest didn’t want anything like this to happen just to have a father watching his child’s competition.

Pending confirmation as DILG secretary at the Commission on Appointments 

Lastly, as always Filipinos celebrate the great only when they are no longer living. Sec. Robredo was not even confirmed for his position despite the fact that it's been 2 years and is technically still an appointed acting secretary. This was due to local politicians who hindered his confirmation. Try as they may to deny it, they did prevented him from holding his office officially right away. On top of that, everyone was busy with other important government issues such as the impeachment proceedings for former Chief Justine Renato Corona. Robredo was scheduled to be confirmed anyway for Aug. 29 but that won’t count anymore. 

Even the president was not fond of him and only appointed him because he was recommended by other cabinet members. But his confirmation was delayed and they had plans of replacing him with Mar Roxas just because of local politicians down south murmuring negative feedback. The president, who was a late sleeper didn't like how Robredo woke him up early during the campaign period before he became president. They're not close and yet he postponed all presidential duties to personally supervise the search for Robredo in Masbate. He was probably guilt stricken. The same applies to Roxas. 

Senators have opposing views about Sec. Robredo's posthumous confirmation. Sen. Panfilo Lacson was okay with it to honor the fallen DILG head. But with the secretary’s death, there is no more appointee to be confirmed according to Sen. Franklin Drilon. His appointment actually ends with his demise. But it is also true that in Philippine history, this doesn’t matter anymore. He will be remembered as one of the DILG secretaries even if he was not confirmed into office. This was rephrased from Sen. Juan Ponce Enrile.

Sec. Robredo as a public servant

Among various appointees of the Noynoy Aquino government, Robredo can be considered worth it. His colorful political career includes 18 years of public service to Naga City. He was elected mayor in 1989 at only age 29. During his office, Naga was even included among the “Most Improved Cities in Asia,” according to Asiaweek Magazine in 1999. He was also a Ramon Magsaysay awardee for government service in 2000. 

He was also known as a humble politician who wears t-shirts on T.V. and rides a bicycle unescorted. His lifestyle is simple and he was never seen raising his voice against employees but rather bites his hand instead when angry. He is close to the people and was never involved with controversies involving public funds. In fact, one of his advocacies included full public disclosure of government funds which was particularly aimed at local government units. With that, he is indeed a exceptional public official we rarely see and would prefer heaven taking other officials instead right?

Final question: why? 

A Catholic Church official said it right when he mentioned that God has a purpose in taking Sec. Robredo while he is still strong and serving with good governance. We can reflect on his life for inspiration and emulation. This is the part that’s painful. Why would there be a need for his death just to have people inspired and emulate his life? Can we not do that while great people still lives? Maybe the clergyman was only thinking of something good to say or he too was searching for answers as to why good people die. Whatever the case is, Sec. Jesse Robredo’s life, particularly his dedication to both his family and public service is indeed inspiring and worth emulating even after the declared days of mourning is over.   
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