The Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP) said Thursday it is seeking the assistance of the United States Coast Guard (USCG) in searching for the missing trainer aircraft by using assets that have underwater equipment.
CAAP spokesperson Eric Apolonio told Palawan News that no trace of the Beechcraft Baron 55 has been found yet in the areas being continuously scouted out by its search and rescue (SAR) team in Occidental Mindoro and nearby territories.
“There’s a try to seek assistance from the US Coast Guard to support the SAR ops by using their asset with underwater search equipment. So we will wait for their positive response anytime from now,” Apolonio’s message said.
He also said the Philippine Air Force (PAF) Sokol helicopter and the private plane they are employing to do aerial searches were unable to launch on May 23 due to bad weather condition.
He said the response units will continue their operations when the “weather permits.”
“The Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) surface vessel will still continue their operations during daylight to search for the missing aircraft and its two occupants,” he said in the message.
The trainer aircraft went missing on May 17 after taking off from the San Jose Airport in Occidental Mindoro with pilot-in-command Capt. Jose Nelson Yapparcon and Saudi national Abdullah Alsharif, a student pilot of the Orient Flying School (OFS).
Apolonio said they are also awaiting information for the arrival of the expert divers that will participate in the SAR operations.
“Still negative sightings of RP-C9078 aircraft and its two occupants,” he stated.
Meanwhile, the Police Regional Office (PRO) in MIMAROPA through spokesperson PCol. Socrates Faltado said that on May 20, a bag allegedly belonging to Yapparcon was found by a certain Helen Cantao in the islet off Sitio Panagatan 1 in Barangay Harigue, Caluya in Antique.
The bag, which contained a wallet, seven credit cards, three SD cards, two flash drives, a key, a power bank, ID pictures, a pilot license card, a charger, a necklace, Indonesian dollar bills, and other items, was turned over to Yapparcon’s son Jayson at the Semirara Mining and Power Corporation Airport.