MAGANES: The tale of a missing luggage at NAIA Terminal 1
Filipinos, particularly the Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs), who travel frequently from other countries to the Philippines and vice versa are more than happy that several reforms were already initiated by the Duterte administration in improving their personal safety including their luggage at the Bureau of Immigration as well as in the terminals of Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA). The “laglag bala or tanim bala” that caused so much worries to Filipinos and foreign travelers, was stopped. The swift air of reforms could be felt at NAIA, according to some friends with whom I was able to talk.
But the reforms could not be felt by a town mate in Villasis. He lost a luggage at NAIA Terminal 1 last January 2 after embarking from Jetstar Asia Airlines with Flight No. 3K761 from Singapore. He waited for his luggage at the terminal’s conveyor until the last piece to come out but to his dismay, the luggage did not arrive. He was dismayed, frustrated and furious.
Ericson Gerard Gonzalez of San Geronimo St., Villasis, Pangasinan, together with his wife, had their honeymoon in Singapore. After the honeymoon, Gonzalez’ wife returned to New Zealand where they lived, but he decided to come to the Philippines to visit his relatives in Villasis town. He took the Jetstar Asia Airlines, an airline that has perks in its promotional flights to entice travelers to patronize its services.
Since his luggage could not be found, he filed a complaint with reference number MNLJQ133371 to the airline management of Jetstar Asia Airlines. All he got was an apology letter from the said airlines, part of the letter states,” Please be advised that Jetstar will rely upon all available defences against any claim for damage, loss or destruction of items in relation to fragile or high value items. Thank you for following this up with us. Again, please accept my apologies for any inconvenience caused . I do hope we’re able to welcome you on board another flight in the future.”
After that letter, Gonzales told me that he followed up several times through telephone calls with the airline management regarding the compensation of his lost luggage, but he was not entertained. ” Jetstar Asia (Airlines) business practice is unacceptable. They didn’t call me for updates after all my efforts of calling,” he said. The contents of the luggage, he said, are his personal belongings with a Holy Rosary given to him by a friend that was blessed personally by Pope Francis. “That rosary is the most precious and valuable item placed inside the luggage,” he said.
Since his efforts to recover the luggage and to be compensated if lost by the airline is going nowhere, he brought the matter to his media friends. DZXL’s Lourdes Escaros interviewed him over the radio last March 20. Allan Bergonia of Remate took also the time to bring the incident to his media friends and this columnist who called up other media practitioners in Metro Manila to look into this incident at NAIA.
This kind of missing luggage might not be the first one at NAIA terminals. There might be other incidents that happened before but the victims did not come out into the open. Airlines have the responsibility to look after the luggage of their passengers from the places of origin to the destinations. I am just surprised why these things happened when all luggage are attached with tags/stickers when checked-ins. These tags have bar codes, I supposed, for tracking purposes.
In this predicament of Gonzales, who’s to be blamed? Is it NAIA Terminal 1 management or the Jetstar Asia Airlines? I think both should take the responsibility. Porters, although oftentimes under sub-contracting companies, are under the supervision of NAIA Terminals. Airlines, on the other hand, being the carriers of passengers and their luggage are responsible for any loss. They are also accountable to their passengers until they reach their destinations.
Is this a new type of syndicate inside the NAIA Terminals? The Department of Transportation (DoTr) under Secretary Art Tugade should look into this kind of modus operandi at the airports. And if I were a passenger in the future, I won’t patronize Jetstar Asia Airlines that seemed to have no care for their passengers. This is a lesson learned from the experience of Gonzales.
Last March 20, former Senator Letecia Ramos Shahani joined her Creator at 2:40 in the morning at St. Luke’s Hospital Global Center, Taguig City. She was confined there due to her lingering cancer of the colon. Her passing was a big loss to the Philippines particularly Pangasinan. She was an accomplished diplomat, a feminist who championed the rights of women, a no-nonsense legislator and a farmer who put a carabao dairy in Tulong village, Urdaneta City.
Mommy Letty as I called her due to my association with her son, the former Vice Governor and Board Member Ranjit Ramos Shahani was an every inch a mother. In my dealings with her, she was a very warm person and always loved to be with the friends of her children. She often asked me how was Ranjit as a public servant, when I was still his media consultant, and also apologetic if she heard nasty things about his son. She’s indeed one of a kind.
Now that we lost a distinguished daughter of Pangasinan, the vacuum she left as public servant is wanting for other women leaders to follow her footsteps. Time will tell if we could still have a woman leader in the future like Mommy Letty.
Through this column, I wish to extend my condolences to the Ramos and Shahani family especially to Sir Ranjit, Chanda and Lila. The loss of their mom might be hurtful, but the hurt will soon subside as we remember the fruitful years she has spent in the service of our country. Godspeed Mommy Letty. Till we meet again.
(For comments and suggestions, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Visit my blog “The Roving Pen” at http://www.virgilmaganes.wordpress.com.)
Entry filed under: News.