PAL, Cebu Pacific offer free flights for Bohol quake’s rescue, relief cargo
Flag carrier Philippine Airlines through PAL Express and Cebu Pacific have agreed to accommodate rescue and relief cargo “for free,” CAB’s Wyrlou Samodio told the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC).
Samodio said the Cebu Pacific management has informed CAB of the airline’s tie-up with a TV network’s relief operations, and the “free cargo” could be coursed through the network.
Samodio also said PAL, Cebu Pacific, and Air Asia Zest, the three airlines operating in Cebu and Bohol, could mount additional flights, and their request would be approved by CAB right away.
“The flights can accommodate the volunteer responders of the government. It is still a commercial flight,” he said.
He clarified, however, that the discounted rates for the passengers could be availed through the airlines’ promotional fares.
Some agencies, particularly the health department, encountered problems in transporting much-needed medical supplies and equipment to Bohol and Cebu after their personnel tried to take commercial flights.
Dr. Arnel Rivera of the DOH Health Emergency Management Office told the NDRRMC meeting that the volunteer doctors were unable to take their flights because they were being charged by the airlines for their excess baggage.
These extra weight came from more than 200 cot beds and folding beds as well as tents for patients who had to be moved out of the damaged hospitals.
Rivera said that Cebu and Bohol have requested for volunteer orthopedic surgeons and anesthesiologists, as well as nurses.
There were also requests for casts, Rivera said, adding he was assuming that most of the injured sustained bone fractures.
“These are our priority now,” he said.
The team of specialists came from the East Avenue Medical Center and the Quirino Memorial Hospital.
Psychologists and nurses from the National Center for Mental Health would also be going to the hard-hit provinces, Rivera said.
Nonetheless, the local chapters of the Philippine Medical Association (PMA) have begun to mobilize their doctors as well to assist in the medical needs of the earthquake victims.
NDRRMC executive director Eduardo del Rosario directed the Philippine Air Force (PAF) to accommodate the needs of the medical personnel in their C-130 flights.
One C-130 is set to fly to Bohol and Cebu on Thursday.
“Time is of the essence,” Del Rosario said.
He also explained that in times of extreme emergencies, “government will enforce that these commercial transportation will be utilized by government.”
“But since this (earthquake) is a more or less a manageable emergency, we are actually getting the help from the private sector just like what PAL and Cebu Pacific did, they are offering to help free services for cargo,” del Rosario said.
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.