Bomb “joke” disrupts 10 flights, temporarily closes runway in Philippine airport

Jacque Manabat / Nimfa Ravelo/ CAAP / Twitter

A bomb “joke” written on a piece of crumpled paper disrupted ten flights and prompted the temporary closure of Bicol International Airport (DRP) in the Philippines on October 2, 2023.

The note was found inside the lavatory of a Cebu Pacific aircraft bound for Manila International Airport (MNL). 

All 130 passengers of flight 5J 326 were deplaned and security personnel re-screened all luggage and hand-carried items.

According to the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP), the note was found by cabin crew inside the aircraft lavatory, stashed inside the toilet roll compartment.

Cebu Pacific confirmed the incident and apologized for the delay in operations.

“As a precautionary measure, passengers and crew were deplaned to allow for additional security inspection,” the low-cost carrier said. “The passengers were taken to the pre-departure area where they were assisted and provided with meals. Their bags were also unloaded to undergo security checks.”

Meanwhile, local media reported that a total of 10 Cebu Pacific flights were affected (5 arriving and 5 departing) while a Philippine Airlines flight en route to Bicol International Airport was diverted back to Manila as per security protocols.

The airport runway was reopened at around 14:20 local time.

No arrests have yet been made in relation to the incident. 

In the Philippines, making bomb jokes or threats is punishable by imprisonment for up to five years along with a fine of up to PHP 40,000 ($700.00) under Presidential Decree No. 1727. It is also punishable by imprisonment for up to 12 years under the country’s Anti-Terrorism Act.

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