Deception and Manipulation Illustration
Cartoon by Roni Santiago

President Benigno Aquino III was indignant over the reported cause of the August 18 plane crash that killed Interior and Local Government Secretary Jesse Robredo.

The cause was pilot’s error, reported the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP) which investigated the crash.

At a recent press conference, Aquino said, “When I first read the initial results of the CAAP investigation, I felt sad and disappointed. This is because all the evidence points to one conclusion: If certain people had done the right thing, if they had only adhered to industry standards, if those involved had only remained true to their obligations, we would have definitely avoided this tragedy.”

CAAP found out that Capt. Jessup Bahinting, the pilot and owner of the ill-fated six-seat Piper Seneca plane, lacked the ability to handle the aircraft in certain emergency conditions. He and another pilot were also killed in the crash.

Aquino said, “While there are many who have said that Captain Jessup M. Bahinting was an expert pilot, he did not have the sufficient experience nor training for one engine-inoperative emergency.” He was unable to maintain the safe operation of the airplane when only one engine was working.

Also, Balinting committed a mistake when he refused to fly back to Mactan after encountering trouble in the right engine 23 minutes into the flight and continued to fly to Naga.

“They were actually able to stay in the air for 70 minutes before crashing. Had they returned to Mactan immediately, it was highly possible that the accident could have been avoided,” Aquino said.

The pilot made another mistake upon entering Masbate airspace. He mistakenly extended the landing gear and flaps even if he was unsure if they would reach the airport runway in Masbate. “This added to the ‘drag,’ which slowed the airplane down,” the investigators said.

Another finding was that there was collusion between a CAAP inspector and Aviatour to violate regulations for the airworthiness of the plane.

The plane supposedly underwent a test flight and was given clearance but there is no record of this in the aircraft logbook. Aviator was not certified by the aircraft manufacturer and CAAP to do aircraft maintenance.

“It is clear that they engaged in deception and manipulation, which came at the cost of three lives,” Aquino lamented.

It is heart-breaking to learn that these inept people were not only remiss in their task of ensuring the airworthiness of airplanes but they also resorted to “deception and manipulation” to violate regulations.

The President should cause the issuance of stringent measures governing the licensing of pilots.

He should see to it that the irresponsible people, whose gross negligence was a contributory cause of the crash, are meted maximum prison term.

Those who engaged in deception and manipulation should get the harshest punishment.

They deserve no mercy.