Ateneo de Davao boycotts Cebu Pacific

MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – In a rare move by a school against an airline company, the Ateneo de Davao University (ADDU) on Monday, June 3, said it is boycotting Cebu Pacific due to the “insensitivity and ineptness” of its personnel.

“I am ordering that ADDU no longer purchase tickets from Cebu Pacific in protest against the insensitivity and ineptness of the manner in which the Cebu Pacific passengers were ignored and neglected by your personnel last night in an hour of emergency,” said Ateneo de Davao president Fr Joel Tabora on Monday.

In a strongly worded letter to Cebu Pacific, Tabora noted the actions of airline personnel after Cebu Pacific Flight 5J 971 overshot the Davao airport runway. The university president said the engine caught fire before the plane came to a stop, but “Cebu Pacific personnel failed to give humane assistance to passengers.”

“No instructions were given; no calming words spoken. Instead a pilot of another airline undertook to calm the passengers,” said Tabora, who has spoken strongly about social issues, such as mining and the reproductive health law

On Monday evening, Cebu Pacific president and CEO Lance Gokongwei said the Davao incident did not involve an "emergency situation," as Tabora claimed, but only a "precautionary disembarkation." "The important thing is that all passengers disembarked safely," Gokongwei said in an interview on ANC.

He also apologized to all those affected by the incident. (Read: Cebu Pacific CEO on Davao incident: Sorry.)

The Jesuit added the passengers had to endure 27 minutes “in a smoked cabin” before airline personnel allowed them “to leave the plane by coming down emergency slides.” “What if there was an emergency medical situation on the plane in those 27 minutes?”

“I am incensed not because there was a mechanical failure last night, but because of Cebu Pacific's manifest human failure. Where was your concern for the passengers? Your personnel lack training for an emergency situation. They froze. They did not know what to do. They must be able to put the welfare of the passengers before their own. And they must be trained to do so,” Tabora said.

He explained: “When you put such people in the care of people, you endanger lives. Under these circumstances, we will generally recommend a boycott of Cebu Pacific. You do not deserve customers.”

On Monday, Transportation Secretary Joseph Emilio Abaya ordered the civil aviation body to clear the Davao runway within the day to allow the resumption of flights at one of the country's busiest airports.– Rappler.com

Paterno R. Esmaquel II

Paterno R. Esmaquel II is a senior reporter leading Rappler’s coverage of religion and foreign affairs. He finished MA Journalism in Ateneo and MSc Asian Studies (Religions in Plural Societies) at RSIS, Singapore. For story ideas or feedback, email him at pat.esmaquel@rappler.com.

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