DFA chimes in on CebuPac offloading of sick boy

By Dharel Placido, ABS-CBNnews.com

Posted at Mar 18 2014 02:51 PM | Updated as of Mar 18 2014 10:51 PM

MANILA – The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) is seeking better coordination with airline companies following the offloading of a boy due for surgery in Vietnam by a Cebu Pacific employee last Saturday.

DFA Assistant Secretary for Consular Affairs Wilfredo Santos said Mark Rotanel, a Cebu Pacific supervisor who got flak for offloading the boy and his relatives, could not be totally blamed for his decision to offload the boy due to a damaged passport.

He said Rotanel might have worried that Vietnam authorities will not accept the passport because the stitching was coming loose.

"Siguro nag-alala ang airline, baka masira on the way, or hindi tanggapin ng Vietnam kung yung loose na yung stitching," Santos told radio dzMM.

"Decision nila iyan on the ground. Siguro very cautious ang employee to ensure that the passenger is able to enter the country of destination."

To prevent a similar incident from happening again, Santos said the DFA is looking into establishing better coordination with airline companies regarding passport concerns.

"We should continue to enhance our coordination with airlines on this matter," he said.

The manner by which Rotanel supposedly dealt with the boy and his relatives, however, is a different matter that must be addressed by the airline management and concerned government agencies, Santos said.

The boy's mother, Regin de Guzman Palileo, earlier said that despite her pleadings and explanation of the medical emergency, Rotanel insisted that the airline had the right to offload any passenger using a damaged passport.

Palileo said her son used the same passport in their last travel to United States but did not encounter any problem.

She also accused Rotanel of being rude by shouting at them when they insisted and explained why they should be allowed to leave.

As of posting, Palileo and her son are now in Vietnam where the latter is set to undergo operation for his pectus excavatum or "hollowed chest."

The Civil Aeronautics Board (CAB) has issued a show cause order to Cebu Pacific regarding the incident.

Meanwhile, Santos said the DFA has already addressed concerns over e-passports with inferior quality. Some holders had complained that the stitchings on their respective passports loosened quickly.

"Itong series of e-passport, they represent only a small passport that we issued in 2010. We issued almost 10 million e-passports," he said.