All safe, all angry

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Tuesday, June 4, 2013


PEOPLE are incensed, angriest of whom is Davao City Mayor Sara Z. Duterte-Carpio who pointed out that airport authorities did not even call Central 911 for help at that time the plane overshot the runway at the Francisco Bangoy International Airport at 7:05 p.m. Sunday.

“CAAP should make heads roll dinha sa Davao Airport management and personnel. The emergency last night was poorly managed by DIA,” she said in a text message.

From the records of the Central 911, she said in a television interview, it appears that a “concerned security guard” was the one who called for assistance and no one else.

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Worse, the 911 crew were not allowed to enter and help the passengers.

“Dili man mi manghilabot sa ilaha kung unsa ilang protocol sa sulod pero dapat ana magpatabang sila (We will not meddle with their emergency protocols, but they should have asked for help)," she said in the interview.

Contrary to claims by airport authorities that power was running that night, Duterte said that power was indeed cut off as it was cut off in the northern portion of Davao City because of the heavy rain.

“To put on record their nonexistent emergency plan,” she said. "Dugay kaayo nibalik ilang kuryente. Wala pud silay emergency light (They did not have emergency lights, they were not able to restore power at the airport immediately).”

The mayor is more incensed because all flights were cancelled the following day, all because of the airplane which was still stuck on the runway.

"Kung ako lang naay pangbira anang eroplano, ako na nag guyod ang eroplanoha na ba. Dili lang ko gusto mag init akong ulo kay kabalo na ta unsa mag init akong ulo. They should remove the aircraft immediately. Dili nila hulaton ang oras ba na maperwisyo ang mga tao, daghan pa ug negosyo ang malugi tungod sa ilang kapabayaan (If I had anything to tow that airplane I will do that. I just don’t want to lose my temper about this because people know how I lose my temper. They should remove the aircraft immediately. They should not wait for more people to be inconvenienced for more businesses to lose money all because of their ineptitude)," Duterte-Carpio said.

Because of this, she said the city government will submit a complaint against the DIA management and personnel.

Stranded Cebu Pacific passengers
STRANDED. Thousands of passengers had to share cramp spaces as all flights to and from the Francisco Bangoy International Airport have been cancelled Monday due to the Cebu Pacific airplane that overshot the runway at the height of the heavy rain Sunday night. (King Rodriguez)


As of press time, Duterte-Carpio said the City has already drafted a complaint.

A Cebu Pacific aircraft PC-3266 or Flight 5J-971 from Manila to Davao "veered off" to the right of the runway some 1,100 meters from the Runway 23 (between taxiway A4 and taxiway A3) during a heavy downpour at 7:05 p.m. of June 2.

Frederico San Felix said the aircraft carrying 161 adult passengers and four infants, two pilots and four cabin crew was piloted by Captain Antonio Oropesa.

He said the crash fire and rescue team of the DIA immediately responded to the incident.

When asked of his comment on the statement releaased by Duterte-Carpio, San Felix said it is the mayor's "option."

"Wala kaming kasalanan, it's the airline hindi ang management. Mag file siya kung gusto niya, we will face it," the airport manager said in a phone interview.

Cebu Pacific airplane overshoots the runway in Davao airport
The Cebu Pacific airplane that overshot the runway Sunday night.

Angry passengers

The official twitter account of Ateneo de Davao University (ADDU) posted a call to boycott Cebu Pacific for what ADDU president Joel E. Tabora SJ for the airline personnel’s failure “to give humane assistance to the passengers”.

First-hand information from passengers confirm the absence of assistance the moment they alighted from the plane.

Mendrado Canuza V, an Ateneo law student and part-time faculty said that after the fearsome landing and seeing smoke and smelling acrid fumes, nothing was heard from the cabin crew.

“Walang sinabi. Ang announcement lang mag-sit down lang kami,” he said. It took more than 20 minutes before the door was even opened and the only instruction was they go down by rows. He was on Row 9, and passengers were appealing that the children and elderly be made to go down first. It took a while before the flight attendants allowed that to happen, and as a pregnant woman strode down the aisle from the back, she was castigated by the attendant why she did not declare she was pregnant at check-in so that she could have been given a front row seat.

“Para sabihin yun ng flight attendant sa ganung sitwasyon, (bad word),” he said, to stress the outrageous situation inside the plane.

By the time they were able to slide down the emergency chute, a Cebu Pacific crew arrived with yellow umbrellas, but no one told them where to go.

“Kami pa yung nagtatanong kung saan kami dadaan, parang, sir, pwede ba kami dumaan dito?”

Tagum resident and businessman Sammy Luzon was more incensed. He was on the front rows, he said, and confirmed that no one was in control the moment the plane stopped.

He estimated between 10-15 minutes before the pilot came out of the cockpit to face the passengers and around 20 minutes or more before the door was opened and the emergency chute released.

Worse, he said, being among the first who went down, they were left there to get drenched in very heavy rain.

“Pinatayo kami doon sa runway kasi bawal raw mag-cross baka raw may mag-land na airplane. Basang-basa kami sa ulan nang wala man lang tumutulong,” he said.

Canuza said he cannot speak for the passengers who were led into the holding room after they disembarked since a vehicle was already there to fetch him and he was with his grandmother and “pamangkin”.

“Alam ko matatagalan yun, kaya inasikaso ko muna family ko,” he said. He returned at around 10 p.m.

There to bring the passengers to the airport was a Multicab described as something that might be owned by a barangay council, an unmarked Starex van, and an ambulance that only had a driver and no emergency crew.

Luzon said that even at the airport, not one single medical attendant checked for blood pressures nor were there to administer first aid. Worst, the passengers were asking for water, but not one airline crew gave them.

They were finally given Zesto at around 10:30 p.m., more than three hours since they landed.

It was around that time too when a CebuPacific executive, whom Luzon said was the manager named Nicanor Camcam, talked to them in a soothing voice, but provided them with no information.

“Magaling siya magsalita, mahinahon,” he said, but had nothing to tell the passengers. A nurse arrived too but told off by passengers because she did not have anything with her, not even the equipment to take blood pressure readings.

A woman staff said they have accommodations for the night should they wish to avail of this, but when asked where, the woman only said, “Doon sa Cabaguio.”

Chaos at GenSan

The following day, passengers were given the choice of rebooking or flying out through General Santos City, where Cebu Pacific provided airconned vans to bring them for free.

But it wasn’t any better there.

Stephanie Suelto Hibionada, a passenger of the 8:20 a.m. flight to Cebu yesterday said it was chaos at the General Santos City International Airport.

“Option gven kay sa june 5 or mag travel mi gensan then naay 2:45 and 3:45 na flyt. Pag abot dre gubot kaaau and naa pay uban passengers sa 2:45 na flyt na giingnan na puno ndaw and na 6:55 na sila (The option given was rebook to June 5 or take the flight from General Santos, there are flights to Cebu at 2:45 and 3:45. But when we arrived, it was chaos. There were passengers in the 2:45 p.m. flight who were told the flight is already full and they have to take the 6:55 flight),” Hibionada said in her Facebook conversation with cousin-journalist Diana Lyd Suelto.

“(D)re sa airport wlay sistema kay past 2 na gnina and ang mga 2:45 wla gpa una ug check n so ngkabuang tawon ang mga pasahero ug apas (There is also no system in place at the General Santos airport such that even at past 2 p.m. those on the 2:45 p.m. flight were not given priority to check-in, so people were all in a panic),” she added. (Sun.Star Davao)

Published in the Sun.Star Davao newspaper on June 05, 2013.

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