The 2012 Philippine Piper Seneca crash was the 18 August 2012 crash of a twin-engine light aircraft in the sea off the island province of Masbate in the Philippines. The Piper PA-34 Seneca was carrying four people, including Philippine government minister Jesse Robredo. Three of the occupants are missing, including Robredo, who was traveling from Mactan, Cebu to Naga, Camarines Sur.
The aircraft was a Piper PA-34-200 Seneca I, registered RP-C4431. It was issued a certificate of registration on 4 October 2011 with a date of expiration for 3 October 2012. The certification of airworthiness of the aircraft was valid until 7 January 2013.
Passengers and crew
Passengers were Philippine Department of the Interior and Local Government Secretary Jesse Robredo and his aide Police Chief Inspector June Paolo Abrazado. Robredo was in Cebu to attend the national summit of the Community Investigative Support and the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group. He was at the airport at 3 o’clock in the afternoon to catch a commercial flight for Manila, however for him to be in a hurry, he instead had taken the private charter airplane to go home to Naga to watch her daughter’s swimming competition. There were two crew on board: pilot and CEO of Aviatour Air, Jessup Bahinting, and co-pilot Kshitiz Chand, a Nepalese national.
The pilot of the Seneca requested an emergency landing at Masbate Airport, citing engine problems. At around 15:30, Abrazado sent a text message to Colonel Ritchie Posadas, PCAS-7 chief, informing him that they were returning back to Cebu due to a problem with one of the propellers. He also asked to be re-booked for the earliest possible flight out of Mactan. However, at 16:02, Abrazado sent messages to the PCAS-7 and DILG personnel, telling them that the airplane was making an emergency landing at Masbate Airport.
The airplane then crashed into the sea off the shores of Masbate. The site of the crash was 300 metres away from the Masbate airport. Of the four people aboard the aircraft, the sole survivor, Robredo’s aide, said that the airplane broke apart as it hit the water.
More than 200 rescuers together with military divers and helicopters started searching for the passengers after the crash. The United States Navy also sent two ships and a diving team to the area to aid in the search.
Robredo and the two pilots are still missing, though Abrazado was then found about 500 metres off the coast, along with the wreckage. The first part of the airplane found was the tip of the right wing. A flight manifest involving the name of Jesse Robredo was also found near the site of accident on 19 August 2012. On 20 August 2012, depris of the plane was recovered.
President Benigno Aquino went himself to search for Robredo after he flew to Masbate the next day. He was accompanied by the Transport Secretary Mar Roxas, who said that special sonar equipment was also sent to aid in the search and that “we just want to do everything we can to save him [Robredo].” Acquino also said that Abrazado was conscious and had only a few injuries.
The government called for a prayer vigil at a chapel in Manila. The company that owns the aircraft suspended its operations without waiting for an official order.