Cebu Pacific faces P5-M anti-discrimination suit

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jan 21 2010 09:05 PM | Updated as of Jan 22 2010 05:05 AM

MANILA, Philippines - Gokongwei-led Cebu Pacific Airlines is facing a P5-million civil suit for attempting to offload a child with developmental disability from one of its flights last December.

Marites Alcantara and her family, represented by their legal counsel Salvador Panelo, filed the case before the Antipolo City Regional Trial Court on Thursday.

On December 23, Alcantara and her son, John Arvin, was pressured by Cebu Pacific's purser and cabin crew to get off a plane bound for Manila from Hong Kong. Alcantara said the crew members flatly told her that John Arvin was a special child and was banned from boarding Cebu Pacific planes as stated under company rules.

Panelo said Cebu Pacific violated several laws.

He said refusing to convey a passenger for his disability was a violation of Republic Act 7277 or The Magna Carta for Disabled Persons.

He also said that Cebu Pacific violated Article 3 Section 6 of the 1987 Constitution which provides that “the liberty of abode and of changing the same within the limits prescribed by law shall not be impaired except upon lawful order of the court. Neither shall the right to travel be impaired except in the interest of national security, public safety, or public health, as may be provided by law.”

The Alcantara family is seeking P3 million in moral damages, P1 million in exemplary damages, and P500,000 attorney's fees at P500,000 filing.

Cebu Pacific had apologized to Alcantara and her son, saying that the incident was "a result of the cabin crew's misinterpretation of government regulations designed to assure the safety of passengers."

"Cebu Pacific has no policy that discriminates against persons with special needs," the airline previously clarified. "We taken all the necessary measures to make sure similar incidents do not happen again and that passengers with special needs are properly attended to."