PAL rift far from over

08/05/2010 - MALACAÑANG could not guarantee that the problems hounding the Philippine Airlines (PAL) will be resolved this week while it is mulling to intervene in the looming strike of the airline's flight attendants.

Presidential spokesperson Edwin Lacierda said they are trying to ease the burden but cannot make an assurance that all matters could be dealt in such a narrow time.

"We are still hoping if it could be resolved at this point in time. I cannot guarantee if we can do it this week but we will exert all efforts to resolve this situation as soon as possible," Lacierda said.

He admitted that they are having difficulty in holding a dialogue between the two concerned parties due to the unavailability of the concerned pilots.

"We had a dialogue with the representative of PAL pilots. We are asking them why the concerned pilots did not come. They said they were afraid of the repercussions from PAL management," he said.

Some 25 pilots of PAL decamped over the weekend for higher-paying jobs abroad, causing disruption in several international and domestic flights of the top national carrier.

The government immediately mediated in patching things with the Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC), which is tasked to lead in the dialogue.

"We are getting more and more information on the conditions from both sides. For instance in the pilots case, we thought it was just a simple case of salary issue but we learned other reasons," Lacierda shared.

He, however, refused to divulge the sentiments of the PAL and its workers aside from salary issues and alleged unfair labor practices of the management.

He said the government cannot force PAL to adjust the salary of their pilot, leaving the discretion to the airline.

The government is also planning to intervene in the looming strike of the airline's flight attendants.

"Dole (Department of Labor and Employment) secretary Rosalinda Baldos was present during our three meetings so she is on top of the situation," he assured, adding that the government is willing to meet with the group when needed.

"As far as we know they have not filed a labor case complaint before the national labor commission or the Dole," he noted.

Lacierda reiterated that there was no discussion of hiring pilots of the Philippine Air Force to avert the crisis and the option of government take-over was not also considered

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