Lawyers want more than just “sorry” from Cebu Pacific

Jun. 04, 2013

Addressing all budget airlines, especially Cebu Pacific, lawyer Carlos Isagani Zarate said that “(M)ore than taking care of profits, the safety of the riding public must not be sacrificed.”


DAVAO CITY, Philippines – Two lawyers expressed Tuesday that the apology made by the Cebu Pacific management for the runway mishap involving one of its aircrafts at the Francisco Bangoy International Airport (FBIA) is “not enough.”

In a television interview Monday evening, Lance Gokongwei, President and Chief Executive Officer of Cebu Pacific, described the incident as “most unfortunate ”as he apologized to the passengers of the plane and to those whose travel plans have been disrupted.

But lawyer Neri Colmenares, representative of Bayan Muna Party, said that more than the apology, the airline company must “be open to a complete investigation” and that it should welcome “a full review of their policies.”

Cebu Pacific’s Airbus A-320 (Flight 5J 971) which veered off the airport tarmac upon touchdown last Sunday evening has caused a two-day paralysis of the city’s international gateway, affecting thousands of passengers.

At least 19 roundtrip flights were cancelled by the Cebu Pacific while the Philippine Airlines cancelled at least nine flights since Monday morning as the disabled aircraft obstructed the runway.

The temporary closure also affected the local economy with an estimated loss of PHP 250 million, according to Jason Magnaye, head of the Davao City Tourism, Investment and Promotions Office.

At about 7 PM Tuesday, the aircraft was removed from the runway and the FBIA’s operations have been resumed at around 8 PM.

Don’t “tipid” the passengers’ safety

Cebu Pacific, a budget airline, has been patronized by many mainly for its tipid or low fare promos.

But lawyer Carlos Isagani Zarate said that even if it’s a tipid airline, it should not “tipid” the safety of its passengers.

Addressing all budget airlines, especially Cebu Pacific, Zarate said that “(M)ore than taking care of profits, the safety of the riding public must not be sacrificed.”

Zarate, who recently won a seat in the House of Representatives for Bayan Muna Party, also scored Cebu Pacific for not learning from, if not correcting, its previous errors.

In 2011, a Cebu Pacific plane figured in the same mishap in Puerto Princesa, Palawan province, according to John Andrews, Director General of the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP).

Bayan Muna also noted a report of the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council of a near collision in 2012 involving Cebu-Pacific and Zest Air.

Colmenares has urged CAAP to publish the report of the said incidents so that the public may be aware of their causes and the sanctions imposed.

He also said that because it affected the riding public, “Cebu Pacific should shoulder all the expenses and damages incurred not just of their passengers but those of other airlines as well who were stranded.”

With this, Zarate all the more pushed for an investigation so that the rights of the riding public will be “clearly defined” and will not only fall as a memorandum of agreement between two government departments.

He referred to the Department of Transportation and Communications’ and the Department of Trade and Industry’s joint Administrative Order No. 1, Series of 2012 or the Air Passenger Bill of Rights (  The measure seeks to protect consumers from abuses of airline companies.

It includes the consumers’ rights to be provided with accurate information, receive full value of the service purchased and to compensation in cases of delay, cancellation, and delayed, lost or damaged baggage.  (

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