MANILA (UPDATED) — A Cebu Pacific pilot who claimed VP Leni Robredo allegedly requested for priority landing last month has admitted that his post had no basis, an airline official said Tuesday.
Cebu Pacific's vice president for flight operations Capt. Sam Avila confirmed that the pilot's claims "had no basis" and "was purely speculative and careless on his part."
"On behalf of Cebu Pacific, and as Head of our Pilot Group, I take command responsibility and apologize unreservedly to the Vice President and the general public for the actions of our pilot," Avila said in a statement.
"As professional aviators and free citizens of this country, we are free to express opinions, but we are also expected to carry out our roles and duties with utmost discernment and caution," he added.
In the viral post which has been deleted, the pilot claimed his flight was diverted to Clark International Airport in Pampanga last month due to Robredo's alleged request for priority landing.
However, there were no reported flight diversions at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) in April. Several local flights were canceled in the first week of the said month due to bad weather.
Avila noted that the pilot's post "should not have been published," as Cebu Pacific has strict social media policies covering its employees, something that the pilot himself recognized.
He noted that the pilot who made the claims against Robredo is now under disciplinary review, "in accordance with our Company rules and standards."
Robredo has yet to issue a comment or reaction to the statement. As of writing, she is still in New York in the United States to attend the graduation of her youngest daughter Jillian.
On Monday, Cebu Pacific said that it was already investigating the claims made by the pilot.
The airline said that the pilot's allegations were a violation of its Code of Discipline.
"Cebu Pacific respects freedom of speech and expression and does not prevent its employees from having or expressing their own political beliefs. However, as a Company, we are also governed by the Data Privacy Act of 2012 and our Company’s Code of Discipline," it said.
"We also have a robust Social Media Policy which has clear guidelines on how our employees should behave on social media because they are stewards of our brand and everything that we value as a company," the company added.
For his part, Senate President Vicente Sotto III also called out the said pilot.
"Unfortunately, that pilot does not know that there are 3 persons in govt that are given landing and take off priority in all PH airports as CAAP knows," he said on Twitter.
The President, Vice President, and Senate President are entitled to landing and take-off priority in all airports in the country.