Historically, airline bumping off is caused by overbooking. But the case of Marites Alcantara and her son Arvin is different. The misfortune happened last December 23, 2009. The two were on board a Cebu Pacific plane bound for Manila from Hongkong, desiring to be home for the holidays. According to Mrs. Alcantara, the purser and cabin crew of the airline forced them to get off the plane because her son was “mentally ill”.
The employees pointed to a Company Manual which according to them does not allow persons who are mentally ill to board the aircraft. Arvin, was suffering from Global Developmental Delay – a condition where a child’s acquisition of motor skills is not as quickly as expected. Mrs. Alcantara adamantly explained that Arvin is not mentally ill; so they refused to get off the plane. The poor boy cried while they were being humiliated in the eyes of other passengers. Although they arrived safely in Manila on board the same plane, Mrs. Alcantara lost no time in seeking the advice of counsel for possible civil and criminal charges.
(1) Child Discrimination under RA 7610, as amended
This law emphasizes the policy of the state to protect children from all forms of abuse, neglect, cruelty, exploitation, discrimination and other conditions prejudicial to their development (Sec. 2). The act of the airline employees in humiliating the child and his mother caused emotional and psychological trauma upon him. Children, even without a law enjoining it, must be treated with special care, more so if they suffer from special conditions. A child, who has Global Developmental Delay, from the name itself, suffers from a delayed development of some skills which most children of his age have already acquired. In Arvin’s case, according to his mom, he had problems with his motor skills. But this does not outright qualify him as “mentally ill”. Obviously, the airline purser and crew did not really know what a mentally ill person is. They probably thought that Arvin was like some psychotic or neurotic, which is totally unfair. They should have listened to the explanation of the mother. Read the rest of this entry »