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MANILA, Philippines – Low-cost carrier Cebu Pacific on Monday expressed regret over the offloaded luggage of actress Claudine Barretto, which sparked the fight between Philippine Daily Inquirer columnist and TV5 host Ramon Tulfo and Claudine’s husband Raymart Santiago and his friends at the NAIA Terminal 3 on Sunday.
Cebu Pacific Vice President for Marketing and Distribution Candace Iyog explained that flight 5J 896 from Caticlan to Manila had to offload some luggage due to Caticlan airport’s weight limitation, and the practice is implemented for safety reasons whenever wind conditions require it.
Iyog said the off-loaded bags were put on the earliest available Kalibo-Manila flight on the same day and have been delivered to the 11 owners, including Claudine and Raymart.
“We regret the inconvenience this may have caused our guests and we hope for their understanding as their safety is our primary concern,” Iyog added.
CEBU Pacific officials confirmed in a statement to the airport police that their two ground personnel were verbally assaulted by Claudine when they told her of the off-loading of her luggage upon arrival last Sunday at Terminal 3 from Caticlan.
An angry Claudine went to the CEB counter and, in a shrill voice, allegedly confronted airline ground staff Cid Charisse Bocboc and Kristina Anne Ilagan.
Veteran journalist Tulfo who arrived at the same terminal from Davao, witnessed the altercation as he waited near the other conveyor, and started taking pictures of Claudine with his mobile phone camera.
Airport police earlier reported that Raymart, on being told by a friend that Tulfo had taken pictures, confronted the newsman and asked him to delete them. When Tulfo refused, the brawl started. No one could recall who threw the first punch, but Tulfo said in interviews they came to blows after Raymart tried to grab his phone.
Amateur video uploaded on YouTube showed Tulfo on the ground, with someone who looked like Raymart keeping him in a headlock, and several other men throwing punches. This, while airport guards were restraining Tulfo. Officials clairified Monday the guards were pacifying both parties.
Raymart and Claudine said the video captured only the second part of the incident and that several minutes earlier, it was Tulfo who acted aggressively. That, however, could not be validated in the absence of CCTV cameras in that part of the terminal
NAIA terminal 3 manager Octavio Lina said the exact location where the reported brawl happened last Sunday is not covered by a Closed-Circuit Television (CCTV), and that while there are cameras installed in T3, “that place is a blind spot, meaning there is no camera focused on the area”.
Lina added that Takenaka Corp, the Japanese company that built the NAIA T3, included in their completion list the CCTV units in other parts of the area before the full operations.
No formal charges have been filed against the parties by the Manila International Airport Authority (MIAA) officials, but Tulfo filed charges Monday morning against the couple before the Pasay City prosecutor’s office.
“It’s no big deal,” Manila International Airport Authority (MIAA) general manager Jose Angel Honrado said in a phone interview Monday morning.
The best the MIAA could do, Honrado stressed, is to have a retraining program among the security personnel.
Claudine in earlier airport ‘drama’
Meanwhile, airport sources said this is not the first time that Claudine figured in a “drama” at the airport.
Two years ago, when she and Raymart Santiago missed their Los Angeles flight because they came late and the counter was already closed, Claudine allegedly confronted one of the supervisors and told him “baka gusto mong mawalan ng trabaho kung di mo kami pasasakayin, isang tawag lang iyan [You will lose your job if you don’t board us. All it takes is one call from me].”
The supervisor called the gate and asked the pilot to spare a few minutes before pushing back from the tube to accommodate the showbiz couple.