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Pilot who made viral post vs Robredo now admits 'he had no basis' — Cebu Pacific

By Brooke Villanueva Published May 17, 2022 10:07 am Updated May 18, 2022 11:39 am

The pilot who made a now-deleted post that made the rounds on Facebook about Vice President Leni Robredo causing flight diversions at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) now admits "he had no basis for his claim."

"Since becoming aware of the social media post by one of our pilots in reference to a flight of Vice President Leni Robredo, I confirm that the pilot has made it clear to us that he had no basis for his claim and was purely speculative and careless on his part," Captain Sam Avila, Cebu Pacific Air's vice president for flight operations, said in a statement today, May 17.

A post by a Cebu Pacific pilot recently made the rounds online, where he said Robredo caused flight diversions at the NAIA after asking for her flight to be given priority in April. He also claimed that the ambassador of Australia was one of his passengers on board at the time, as well as seven infants who allegedly cried during their fuel stop. 

"While the pilot posted his commentary on his own accord, a post he has since removed, 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. 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," said Avila.

'Under disciplinary review'

"Cebu Pacific has very strict social media policies covering all of its employees and such a post should not have been published. This is recognized by the said pilot himself."

Avila added that the said pilot is now "is currently under disciplinary review in accordance with our Company rules and standards."

Previously, on May 16 Cebu Pacific said it, along with the state aviation authority, is already looking into the pilot’s now-deleted post that claimed Robredo's request for priority landing caused flight diversions at NAIA. 

In a statement posted on Monday, May 16, the airline company stressed that they respect freedom of speech and expression “and does not prevent its employees from having or expressing their own political beliefs.” The company, however, pointed out that they are also governed by the Data Privacy Act of 2012 and its Code of Discipline. 

“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 said. 

“Sensitive company information and operational details must not be disclosed publicly – even when factual and more so, if erroneous to prevent the spread of disinformation,” the firm continued, adding that they are now coordinating with the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines to investigate the issue.

CEB also said they will be addressing the matter internally, together with their concerned stakeholders. 

Malicious fabrication

The Office of the Vice President has also denied the claim of the said pilot.

“The Office of the Vice President categorically denies the false story being circulated in social media which claims that VP Leni Robredo requested priority landing at NAIA for a flight she was on. This never happened and is a malicious fabrication,” the OVP said in a statement.

The OVP said that during her entire tenure as vice president, Robredo “has never asked to be prioritized for taking off or landing when travelling by air. Any claim to the contrary is a lie.”

“It is alarming that almost a week after the elections, the disinformation and fake news being spread on social media against VP Leni continue unabated. Lying, unfortunately, has become a full-blown industry on social media.”

Robredo flew to the United States on Sunday, May 15 for her youngest daughter Jillian’s graduation from New York University, where the latter earned a double degree in mathematics and economics.

Meanwhile, the National Privacy Commission has said that the pilot has not violated any privacy law with his post.

"Based on our preliminary assessment on the post made by the pilot of Cebu Pac on Facebook, we find that there is no disclosure of personal data giving rise to a violation of the Data Privacy Act of 2012," the NPC said.