A hero emerges in Cebu Pacific flight 5J 971
Photo of the aisle inside a Cebu Pacific plane
MANILA, Philippines – A Navy reservist will be honored by the Philippine Navy for his “heroic deeds” after he helped calming down passengers in a Cebu Pacific plane 5J 971 that missed the runway of the Davao International Airport and landed on mud and grass at the side on Sunday.
Marine Colonel Edgard Arevalo, the Navy’s Civil Military Operations Group spokesman, identified the “hero” as Lieutenant Marlon Bo, a Navy reservist and a graduate of Philippine Merchant Marine Academy in 2003.
“We are formally documenting his heroic deeds so the Navy, as Vice Admiral Jose Luis Alano, the Flag Officer in Command if the PN also desires, can honor the hero of that Cebu Pacific Flight 5J 971,” he said Wednesday.
Bo was one of the passengers in the Cebu Pacific plane when the incident happened.
Passengers who have recounted the event said the it was a certain “Navy captain” who took the courage to explain to them what was happening as they sat trapped in a smoke-filed cabin for a good 30 minutes.
Instead of the cabin crew, it was Bo who directed the ensuing disembarkation of the 164 other passengers from inside the plane amid heavy rains and zero visibility outside.
Ateneo de Davao University president Joel Tabora said in a similar account that it was a “pilot from another airline” who stepped up to lead the troubled passengers.
“No instructions were given; no calming words spoken. Instead a pilot of another airline undertook to calm the passengers,” Tabora said.
Nino Ruel Alinsub, also one of the passengers, recalls how Bo helped the passengers to safety. and wrote a first-hand detailed narrative of the incident, said the “captain” from the Philippine Navy gave clear instructions to the passengers to prevent the plane from tipping over while alighting from the emergency slides.
“It took the courage of one person, whom we only know as Captain Bok from the Philippine Navy, to stand up and calm everyone down. He knew what he was doing, and he was in control when even the cabin crew looked like they were really at a loss on what to do. Capt Bok gave clear instructions for everyone to sit down, so that we could leave row by row to prevent the plane from tilting over. He was the clear definition of a “guiding voice,” he said in his blow-by-blow account.