MANILA – The body of Captain Jessup Bahinting was retrieved Wednesday from the mangled fuselage of the Piper Seneca plane that crashed Saturday in waters off Masbate, killing him and Interior Secretary Jesse Robredo and a co-pilot.
His remains were retrieved following the resumption late Wednesday afternoon of the dives by a team of technical divers.
Bahinting’s body was positively identified by his brother Orson and daughter Sarah at the funeral parlor, the Army said. Sarah recognized the ring and the watch on the body as those of her father’s.
Only the remains of Bahinting were found in the wreckage, which was finally brought up to the surface early Wednesday evening. Retrieval operations for the co-pilot, Nepalese flight student Kshitiz Chand, will resume Thursday morning, authorities added.
Transportation and Communications Secretary Manuel Roxas II earlier broke the news of the recovery of the body in his Twitter. He said: “Fuselage lifted and hanging by rope at shallower level where scuba divers could work on it. One more body recovered.”
“Being brought up now. Unrecognizable though with ring. Will provide more as we know,” he added.
The Naval Forces Southern Luzon information officer Ensign Chibar Bullos said the retrieved body was found seated on the right side of the cockpit and firmly strapped by his seatbelt.
Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin, who is in Masbate City monitoring the retrieval work, said that he remains hopeful that divers could locate the other pilot.
“Well, we still hope. And we will go as far as where we can if only to locate the body. Maybe it will be scaled down a bit if we do away with the retrieval in that particular area. We will have to expand left and right and ask the communities in the coastal areas for information,” he said.
He assured the public of continued search and retrieval operations by Navy and Coast Guard divers.
3,000 bid farewell to Capt. Bahinting
CEBU, Philippines - An estimated 3,000 people gathered in the southern town of Ginatilan, Cebu yesterday to big farewell to Capt. Jessup Bahinting.
Friends and family called Bahinting as “God’s gift” because of his kindness.
He was laid to rest in the town cemetery in Barangay Poblacion.
Police said that about a thousand people joined the funeral procession while two thousand more waited at the cemetery.
Former Senator Miguel Zubiri was among those who paid their last respects to Bahinting.
Bahinting died when the Piper Seneca plane carrying Sec. Jesse Robredo of the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) crashed off the shore of Masbate the other Saturday.
The plane was owned by Bahinting and he was the pilot along with Nepalese Kshitiz Chand. Only Sr. Insp. Jun Paolo Abrazado, aide of Robredo survived the mishap.
Zubiri said that when he ran for senator in 2007, Bahinting would not let him pay for his services, but just asked him to pay for the fuel of the plane that would be used.
“He told me not to pay for his service but only to provide gasoline for his plane, he was one of a kind,” Zubiri said.
“His skills in flying were unquestionable, he’s the best pilot I have known,” the politician added.
Zubiri said that he would do what he can to keep the flying school of Bahinting open as this would be the best way to preserve his legacy.
Pastor Benjamine Sol of Grace Communion International said Bahinting was a good example to others for he followed the commandments of God.
He added that Bahinting did not only say the words but also put actions to it.
“Love your neighbors as you love yourself including your enemies,” Sol said in his eulogy.
Sol also shared how Bahinting loved the song “What a Wonderful World”. This reminded Sol of how Bahinting thought peace in the heart of everyone.
Paul Montenegro, Bahinting’s close friend since they were seven years old, claimed that the pilot was a good friend until the end.
“He was there when my father died until the end and now here I am in his wake,” he said.
Pastor Romy Pusta, who welcomed Bahinting to their church in 1976, said they should not fear death as the end of everything but embrace it as God’s promise of great hope for a new life.
“We grieve his death as a man who touched several lives but we have to be joyous for it was an assurance that he will experience what God has promised,” Pusta said.
Close friends, family and students of Aviatour Air, who were gathered around the final resting place of Bahinting released white balloons.
Margarita Bahinting, the widow, hugged the casket of her husband for a few minutes before it was put inside the tomb.
A Cessna plane owned by the Chyn Air also took part in the funeral to honor one of the foremost personalities in the aviation industry in Cebu.
Jemar Rose, eldest child of Bahinting, thanked those who sympathized with them during their grief especially their relatives who came from Baguio, Laguna, Pangasinan, Bohol, Davao, Cagayan de Oro, Iligan, Zamboanga, Surigao and from the United States.
She said that their family has been overwhelmed by the love and support given by the people that surrounded them.
“My father had a great love of God, a great sense of excellence,” Jemar Rose said.
She added that their family will be going forward to continue everything what their father left them.
“I hope those lives touched by my father will also continue his legacy,” she said.
As final tribute to the late Secretary Robredo, operatives and assets of the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group 7 joined a nationwide prayer caravan yesterday morning.
CIDG 7 operatives and around 500 members of the unit’s Community Investigative Support retraced Robredo’s steps from the Cebu International Convention Center in Mandaue City.
A convoy of at least 20 cars and motorcycles then proceeded to the downtown area of Cebu City.
The vehicles bore streamers emblazoned with “Farewell, Sec. Robredo.”
The motorcade ended at St. Joseph the Patriarch Parish in Mabolo where a Mass for the secretary was held.
Father Ramon Ofredo, in his brief homily, said everyone should always be ready for the time that he has to face God as death is unpredictable.
Fr. Ofredo said, Robredo was an example of a “prepared person to enter heaven.”