Davao City gov’t opens helpdesk for Cebu Pacific passengers

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/04 June) — The City Government of Davao has opened a helpdesk to assist passengers of Cebu Pacific Air who have been complaining of alleged mishandling after the plane they boarded from Manila veered off the runway of the Davao International Airport Sunday night.

Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio told reporters on Monday that the city government has tapped two lawyers to assist the drafting of complains against airport authorities and Cebu Pacific Air.

Duterte said the passengers may visit her office or contact hotline number 09083819130, its website www. davaocitygov.ph and Facebook.com/davaocitygov.

“This is basically gathering their narration of events in the evening of June 2 in the Davao airport,” said the mayor, who had earlier chided the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP) for “their non-existent emergency plan.”

In Manila, Capt. John Andrews, CAAP Deputy Director General, told reporters that based on initial investigation, “pilot error” caused the mishap (see other story)>

Davao Oriental Vice Governor Joel Almario told ANC that he heard the pilot talk about problems with the wiper but would like to leave the technical problem to the technical people and focus instead on the company’s lack of crisis management.

Almario said passengers will meet in Davao City Tuesday to pursue earlier discussions of filing a class suit against the airline.

Duterte  said the filing of the case against Cebu Pacific depends on the passengers.

Should they file cases, the city government can either recommend lawyers or give free legal advice, the mayor said.

SP01 Jun Narciso told Mindanews on Monday night that not one among the crew advised them on what to do when the plane came to a full stop after it veered off the runway.

Narciso recalled that it was him and a Navy captain who stood up and advised the passengers to calm down.

“The crew did not allow us to open the emergency exits. They did not know what to do,” he said.

Dr. Jess Delgado of the Entrepreneurship Department of the Ateneo de Davao University told reporters on Tuesday that when they disembarked, they were loaded like sardines in an ambulance.

Delgado, who said they were inside the plane for 27 minutes after landing, and whose university president, Fr. Joel Tabora, had called for a boycott of the airline company, said he would join 44 other passengers in a meeting on Tuesday night.
Mayor Duterte  said CAAP has given much leeway to Cebu Pacific in removing the aircraft away from the runway.

“Our hands are tied by CAAP, giving so much leeway sa Cebu Pacific,” the mayor said.

But CAAP officials in Manila had repeatedly said it is the responsibility of the airline company to remove the aircraft.

Andrews told ANC’s Headstart Tuesday morning that the law provides that the CAAP can remove the aircraft from the runway only with the consent of the airline company.

By noon Cebu Pacific was given its fourth extension of up to 3 p.m., a deadline it again failed to meet. The first deadline was 8 p.m. Monday, extended to 7 a.m. Tuesday and again at 3 p.m. on Tuesday.

Moving the Cebu Pacific aircraft away from the runway has taken so long. This photo was taken at 6:36 p.m. Tuesday. MindaNews photo by Keith Bacongco
Moving the Cebu Pacific aircraft away from the runway has taken so long. This photo was taken at 6:36 p.m. Tuesday. MindaNews photo by Keith Bacongco

A member of the ground crew of Cebu Pacific told journalists that the CAAP had taken over and Cebu Pacific Air workers were assisting the towing operations.

At 6:45pm, the aircraft was towed for about 60 meters using a 20-wheeler trailer and two towing trucks.

But it was stopped when the harness, which is attached to the trailer truck, gave in.

As of 8 p.m., the aircraft was still on the runway, slowly being towed to the tarmac of the old airport across DIA. (Keith Bacongco / Mindanews)