MANILA, Philippines - Cebu Pacific has suspended an airline supervisor at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (Naia) who offloaded a sick boy from a plane on Saturday for allegedly having a damaged passport.
Cebu Pacific station manager Mark Rotanel was placed on preventive suspension pending an investigation, according to airline employees at Naia Terminal 3 and airport officials, who declined to be named because they were not authorised to speak to the media.
Cebu Pacific is facing a complaint, filed by the boy's mother, Regina Palileo. In an interview with a television network, the mother said Rotanel blocked the child from boarding the flight because his passport had loose pages and had a fold. When she tried to reason with Rotanel that the passport was still usable, the airline official became rude and shouted at her, she said.
The boy suffers from a congenital lung ailment and was going to Vietnam to undergo an operation.
A person who witnessed the incident, RJ Pajaro, recounted what happened on his Facebook account and posted a picture of Rotanel, whom he described as "heartless."
The post has since gone viral on social media. Some netizens announced they would boycott Cebu Pacific while others created a Facebook page parodying Rotanel.
The Manila International Airport Authority (MIAA) endorsed the complaint to the Civil Aeronautics Board, which has asked the airline to comment on the case.
The MIAA, upon learning of Palileo's predicament, contacted the Department of Foreign Affairs which issued a temporary passport on Sunday. Cebu Pacific later rebooked the Palileos' flight. They left Sunday morning.
In its latest statement on the incident, issued Tuesday afternoon, Cebu Pacific apologised for the handling of the situation.
"We acknowledge that we could have exerted more patience and compassion in explaining the situation to them last Saturday, and for this we sincerely apologise. Rest assured we are looking into how this was handled, and we will take the necessary administrative action," the airline said.