Malacañang said that the Philippine government will seek more than an apology from XiamenAir for the inconvenience it has caused to incoming and outgoing passengers at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) over the weekend.
Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque made the statement after an aircraft of the Chinese airline skidded off the runway of the NAIA Thursday evening.
In his press briefing, Roque, who was also inconvenienced by the incident, said that more than an apology, there should also be liability for the incident which forced the cancellation of hundreds of flights over the weekend.
“It’s not just an apology that we will ask for. We’re now conducting an investigation if there’s any liability on the part of the Xiamen pilot. That’s why he has been asked not to leave the country. That’s part of an ongoing investigation,” he said Monday.
“Hindi po dapat makalusot nang wala man lang apology pero tingin ko (We should not let this pass without getting even an apology but I think), it’s more than an apology because we’re now investigating if there’s any kind of liability that we can attribute to the pilot,” he added.
“I think all sorts of liability. I’m not actually an authority on aviation law so I wouldn’t know but it can’t be any different from the laws on court, and it can’t be different from the laws on our criminal laws on reckless imprudence resulting to damages,” he continued.
According to Roque, Philippine aviation authorities are now looking into the matter and will take actions against the XiamenAir pilot.
“So, I think they’re looking into it and they will conclude the report, and will take the necessary action against the pilot of the XiamenAir,” he said.
Meanwhile, Roque said that Philippine airport authorities should have better contingencies to avoid crowding a large volume of people in airports.
Roque made the comment after senators mull launching a probe on the mishap.
Roque, who had a 10-hour delayed flight from Davao to Manila last Friday, said that flights should have been cancelled earlier so people would not have to be inconvenienced.
“Perhaps, we should look into contingencies. Kasi parang–kaya naman nagkagulo, ang daming flights na dapat siguro kinansel na pero pinaantay pa rin ang mga pasahero (There was disorder because flights should have been cancelled instead of keeping people waiting),” he said.
“Kung talagang may mga (If there really are) delays, siguro dapat (maybe) the airlines and the airport authorities should already decide to cancel flights, nang hindi na mag-ipon-ipon ‘yung mga tao sa (so people will not gather at the) airport,” he added.
Meanwhile, Roque said that he cannot blame Philippine airport authorities for the inconvenience.
“I’m sure no one wanted it… Humingi naman na po ng patawad na si Secretary Tugade (Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade has already apologized). Siguro naman po (I think) that counts for something,” he said.
“No less than the head of public transportation has apologized for the inconvenience this has caused to the public. Although it was not the airport official himself who caused the inconvenience, it was the XiamenAir incident,” he added.
He, however, said that the Palace welcomes any form of investigation that will be launched on the incident.
“But of course, we welcome any form of investigation. Hindi naman po nangyayari ito madalas sa NAIA (This does not happen often in NAIA), thank goodness. So, we could always learn from this experience,” Roque said.
Meanwhile, Roque said that improvements are underway to prevent such inconvenience from happening in the future.
According to Roque, plans for a new runway and new terminal building for the NAIA were already endorsed by the DOTr to the Investment Coordination Committee (ICC).
While improvement in the NAIA serves as an immediate solution, Roque said that the improvement of the Clark International Airport is also seen as a medium-term solution. The proposed Bulacan International Airport, on the other hand, is the long-term solution.