MANILA – A high-ranking official of the Bureau of Immigration (BI) assigned at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport Terminal 3 claimed on Tuesday that the Cebu Pacific officer who decided to offload a sick boy neither coordinated nor referred the case with their office.
The BI officer, who requested anonymity, said nobody from the Cebu Pacific check-in counter told the bureau about the damaged passport of Gabbe Palileo, who is suffering from a congenital deformity.
The source said Cebu Pacific supervisor Mark Ratonel did not even give a copy of the airline's report about either offloading the sick boy or about the damaged passport.
"Had they informed or at least consulted with us about the damaged passport, we could have guided them on the proper protocol in handling passengers with special concerns," the officer said.
The immigration officer explained that in international flights, they allow passengers with a defective or damaged passport to leave or enter the Philippines in special cases.
The officer said humanitarian consideration allows passengers with defective or damaged passports to leave or enter the country if they can show proof that they need medical attention, or if they are attending to the wake of a close family member.
"Only under these circumstances can passengers using defective or damaged passport be allowed to enter of depart the Philippines," the source said.
The official said the practice is observed worldwide, especially if a diplomat, embassy staff, or any person in authority can vouch for the authenticity of the documents or the person itself.
Immigration counters all around the world have the equipment to detect the authenticity of any passport with all the security features encoded therein, the official added.
"We handled similar problems in the past, both for foreigners and Filipinos, and the burden of proof is very easy to determine especially on passengers who need medical attention," the immigration officer said.
"Madali lang naman malaman kung totoo na may sakit ang pasahero at madali rin malaman kung ang pasahero ay posibleng banta sa sekuridad ng ating bayan. It's as simple as that," the immigration officer added.
The incident could have been avoided if Ratonel consulted their office, the source said.
The immigration officer also added that the airport's CCTV can show that nobody from the airline referred the case of the offloaded boy to them.
Ratonel did not allow Palileo to board a Cebu Pacific flight bound for Vietnam on Saturday night due to the boy's alleged damaged passport.
Cebu Pacific has apologized to the Palileo family and imposed administrative action on Ratonel. - report from Raoul Esperas