As of this writing the search continues for Local Government Secretary Jesse Robredo who remains missing along with two pilots after the Piper Seneca plane they were on crashed somewhere in Masbate Bay on Saturday, the 18th of August. A large search and rescue effort is currently underway involving the Philippine Air Force, Navy, Coast Guard, Army, and Police. The United States has reportedly also sent a rescue team.
[Photo courtesy AllVoices.com.]
No less than Philippine President Benigno Aquino III who, aside from being Robredo’s boss, is also a close friend is on site overseeing the operations. Some have criticised the scale of the operation and the attention given to it by the President himself. But it is unlikely that anyone who would have found himself in the President’s shoes under circumstances such as this would have done otherwise. My colleague Ben Kritz in an earlier comment made this point quite well…
We constantly criticize him for not giving a shit in a crisis, itâ€™s fair to acknowledge his getting off his duff for a change. Sec. Robredo was a member of his Cabinet, and so the news reports say, a friend of N/A â€” if I were in his shoes, I would go. We had the same thing happen when Ron Brown was killed in a plane crash in the Balkans; [then US President] Bill Clinton showed up in person, and everyone thought it was right and appropriate.
In the case of the death of John F Kennedy Jr along with two passengers — his wife and her sister — in a 1999 plane crash, the search and recovery operation took five days over a 9,000-square-mile area. The plane Kennedy piloted was a Piper Saratoga II. The wreckage and bodies were eventually located under difficult conditions: “visibility was less than eight feet, the current was strong and the ocean floor was littered with rocks and boulders.” Nonetheless…
The three bodies were found at 116 feet, about seven miles southwest of Martha’s Vineyard. At a news conference tonight at the investigation’s command center in Bourne, Rear Adm. Richard M. Larrabee of the Coast Guard said that all three victims were ”near and under” the fuselage, still strapped in.
The amount of resources poured into the search and recovery effort was also criticised at the time although then President Bill Clinton owned up to it…
President Clinton, who has talked continually with Kennedy family members since the plane was reported missing, said he had authorized a continuation of the unusually long search, which has been criticized as excessive for three private citizens.
“Because of the role of the Kennedy family in our national lives and because of the enormous losses that they have sustained in our lifetimes, I thought it was appropriate to give them a few more days,” Mr. Clinton said this afternoon during a news conference on other topics.
“If anyone believes that was wrong, the Coast Guard is not at fault — I am,” Mr. Clinton said. “It was because I thought it was the right thing to do under the circumstances.”
For now, Secretary Robredo is somebody’s son, somebody’s father, somebody’s husband, and somebody’s friend. That one of his friends happens to be the Commander and Chief of the Armed Forces of the Philippines — plus the fact that he is a Cabinet Secretary — should make the greater-than-normal effort being applied to his rescue more the appropriate thing to be seeing at this time.
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