Be harsher with Cebu Pacific, govt urged

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There should be more sanctions, like threat of franchise cancelation, on top of the P52-million fine slapped on Cebu Pacific Air for messing up more than 100 flights during the Christmas season, leaving thousands of passengers stranded and furious, according to two lawmakers.

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Rep. Sherwin Tugna of Citizens’ Battle Against Corruption party-list and Rep. Terry Ridon of Kabataan party-list made the suggestion on Thursday, citing “overbooking” as the cause of the holiday chaos at Ninoy Aquino International Airport last month,

“The amount of fine is sufficient, but there should be a very stern warning (against) the airline that any repetition of overbooking and bad service to the riding public will result in possible revocation of franchise,” Tugna, a lawyer, said in a text message.

“In addition, the regulating body should also require Cebu Pacific to return the cost of plane tickets and fair amount of damages to the passengers who were bumped off because of the overbooking,” the House Deputy Majority Leader added.

Ridon backed Tugna, alleging that the P52-million fine was a mere publicity stunt since it won’t benefit those affected by the delays as the fine will go to the government.

“It will not be used to compensate the affected passengers. We want a penalty that benefits the riding public and will be feasibly imposed on Cebu Pacific,” Ridon, also a lawyer, said.

But for Antipolo City Rep. Romeo Acop, the distraught Cebu Pacific passengers need not wait for the Civil Aeronautics Board to take additional actions and instead take Cebu Pacific to court in a damage suit.

“The penalty does not preclude anyone from running after the airline. Clearly, they [passengers]can seek damages because [they]suffered financial loss and undeserved stress to their health because of what the airline did,” Acop, a former police brigadier general, said in a telephone interview.

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