MALTA INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT—A Filipino who arrived here Saturday with over 700 others evacuated by sea from Libya missed his flight to Manila.
Rodrigo Andres was supposed to be among the 356 passengers of the last of two Philippine Airlines flights that the government chartered to repatriate them.
PAL flight 9007 departed here for Manila at 11 a.m. Saturday (Manila time) without Andres after Maltese airport authorities failed to find him.
Andres had just a few hours earlier disembarked along with 766 Filipinos from a ship chartered by the Philippine government to ferry them out of Libya to Malta.
He was among the second batch to leave the ship that arrived before two PAL flights landed here about 6 a.m. Manila time.
With passengers already seated inside the plane, OWWA welfare officer Mario Antonio was seen in a huddle with Maltese airport officials who had been trying to locate Andres.
“(Andres) checked in his luggage but he did not get in the plane and Maltese airport officials are trying to locate him,” Antonio told a media delegation invited to cover the arrival of the evacuees here and repatriation to Manila.
Andres’ name was called repeatedly by PAL flight crew members inside the plane but he was not around.
The plane had 355 passengers as listed, including Andres.
PAL crew members then called Jacinto Abunda, a passenger of the other flight who was seen in the company of Andres.
Abunda came forward and acknowledged he came to know Andres only after meeting him on the ship to Malta.
Abunda said the last time he saw Andres was when he asked him to take in his check-in luggage items he had purchased at the airport.
“I gave him [a pack of] soap to check in with his luggage and I went upstairs ahead of him,” Abunda said.
Reporters asked Antonio whether it was likely that Andres missed his flight deliberately and got out of the airport. He replied, “We don’t know that.”
“We have labor and welfare and DFA officials who can check his whereabouts at the airport,” Antonio said shortly before the plane’s door was closed.
The plane left after a 40-minute delay and after unloading Andres’ luggage.