Some Cebu Pacific Air passengers demand money, others reforms

Subscribe Now July 01, 2013 at 03:26pm

Cebu Pacific Air now faces demands from two groups of passengers that figured in the accident involving its Flight 5J971 to this city that partially missed the runway of the Francisco Bangoy International Airport here on June 2.

One group composed of 37 passengers demanded over a week ago that the airline pay them P1 million each for the emotional distress they suffered during the accident.

A second group emerged on Friday to demand airline policy reforms to ensure better safety and emergency assistance to passengers. This group does not want any monetary compensation.

P1 million each

Andrew Bautista, leader of the first group dubbed “The Victims,” said the group had already sent a demand letter to airline president Lance Gokongwei asking for at least P1 million for each passenger in compensatory damages.

According to the group’s lawyer, Robert de Leon, “My clients gave (the airline) a month to reply to the demand, otherwise (the group) will pursue its plan to sue the airline for breach of contract of carriage of passengers.”

The Survivors

The second group calls itself “The Survivors” and is led by Jess Delgado, a professor at Ateneo de Davao University. In a press conference on Friday, he said that what they wanted was to see a change in some of Cebu Pacific’s policies and for the airline to pledge that passengers would be fully assisted at all times.

Delgado stressed they were not asking for monetary compensation.

The groups’ differing positions have caused conflict between their leaders.

Bautista criticized Delgado for announcing “The Survivors” did not want money. He said this move could undermine his group’s demand for compensation and would picture them as mukhang pera (money-hungry).

“They should have not called for that press conference because it placed our group in a bad light,” Bautista said.

He maintained that the P1-million demand was “not enough (to compensate) for the emotional trauma we suffered in the accident because trauma is unquantifiable.”

Anger, disgust

He said the passengers had also felt anger and disgust at the airline for the lack of assistance during the emergency.

The passengers themselves ended up assisting each other out of the wrecked plane, which had run off the runway and ended up nose-down in the grass beside the tarmac, he said.

“Does one have to die to be compensated?” he asked.

But Delgado maintained that his group never entertained any thoughts of asking for money from Cebu Pacific since what they want is for the airline to shape up and institute changes in its policies.

Continuing efforts

Gokongwei, for his part, when asked last week about the 37 passengers who filed a case, said:

“I think what we are trying to do is communicate with all our passengers. For many passengers, we have taken care of their medical, transportation and lodging expenses. We have also provided many with access to psychologists with the help of the Davao City government. We will continue these efforts.”

Gokongwei said he had not seen the complaint as of Thursday last week.

Candice Iyog, Cebu Pacific spokesperson, said over the weekend: “We cannot comment until we receive the demand letter.”


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