Manila - Divers have recovered the body of the Philippines' interior minister from the wreckage of a light aircraft that crashed into the sea near the central island of Masbate three days ago, a senior official said on Tuesday.
The body of Interior Secretary Jesse Robredo was pulled out from the six-seat Piper Seneca aircraft that had been carrying him, Transportation and Communication Secretary Mar Roxas told reporters.
The bodies of the two pilots, one of whom was a Nepalese flight student, were still being removed from the wreckage, Roxas said.
"Sad as it is, we are now in search and recovery and retrieval," Roxas said.
Robredo, part of Aquino's cabinet since he took office in June 2010 and a member of the ruling political party, was on his way home to Camarines Sur province from Cebu island when his aircraft malfunctioned on Saturday, forcing the pilots to try to land on Masbate.
Witnesses said they saw the aircraft crash into the sea about 500m from the airport runway.