GMA News Online

Spat between RP, airline execs caused delay - Palau president

April 3, 2008 7:06pm
MANILA, Philippines- Palau President Thomas Remengesau Jr on Thursday said that a disagreement between Philippine government executives and airline officials over security screening of passengers prompted him to return to his hotel on the night he was supposed to leave the Philippines.

He revealed this in a statement made available to media on Thursday.

His statement came the same day he lauded the "red carpet" reception accorded him by the Philippine government.

"Unfortunately, the Philippines' efforts to extend proper protocols to the President upon departure were thwarted by the airline's representative in Manila,"he said.

"Philippine officials escorting the President to the plane were told by the airline that the President had to submit to the same security screening as all other passengers, Philippine officials strongly disagreed with what they considered to be unprecedented and disrespectful treatment for a Head of State. With no resolution forthcoming, the President returned to his hotel and the flight departed," he added.

Remengesau was suppose to leave the Philippines on Wednesday night after a two-day visit to the country on board a Continental Airlines flight (CS 892) bound for Guam.

However, Remengesau declined to be frisked and opted to skip the 9:45 p.m. flight.

Remengesau and his party took off from the nearby Villamor Airbase shortly after 2 p.m. on Thursday on board a "chartered" flight.

Malacanang downplayed it as a “minor incident" even as Press Secretary Ignacio Bunye assured that the incident will be thoroughly investigated.

“Certainly this will have to be looked into," he said.

However, Remengesau wants the matter pursued, saying that he wants to take it up with regional airlines serving Palau and the US Transportation Security Administration.

"I intend to bring this up with the regional airlines serving Palau as well as the US Transportation Security Administration so that we can ensure that respect and culturally-appropriate treatment is accorded Heads of State that will visit Palau,"he said.

The Palau president also expressed disappointment in the airline's unwillingness to resolve this issue.

"I would have expected that the airline would honor internationally recognized protocols regarding Heads of State as well as show some sensitivity to our Pacific Culture," he said.

"I am well aware of security concerns that airlines face and I support their efforts to keep flying safe, but there must be some room for the exercise of common sense in all decisions, and there must be respect for the dignity of the highest level of government," the President added.- GMANews.TV
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