Relatives of three retired Filipino teachers yesterday called on President Duterte to help them find the three retired Filipino teachers who reportedly went missing since last week after their connecting flight to China from United States was delayed and diverted due to typhoon “Hanna” (international name “Lekima”).
Djoanna Varela said her aunts Linda Varela Guce, Josefina Varela Baysic, and Pacita Varela de Guzman, all senior citizens, left John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York City last Aug. 9, Friday, aboard China Eastern Airlines Flight MU 298.
The plane was supposed to arrive at 4:40 a.m. the next day, Saturday, Aug. 10, at Pudong International Airport in Shanghai, China.
Varela said her three relatives were supposed to take a connecting flight via China Eastern Flight MU 211 from Pudong International Airport to the Ninoy Aquino International Airport at 7:05 p.m. the same day.
“Until now, we are in a quandary (as to) what happened to them. They should have arrived in the Philippines last Aug. 10 or during the early hours of Aug. 11,” she said, adding that the three retired teachers visited their relatives in New Jersey and stayed there for six months before heading back home to Manila.
“We appeal to the good heart of our President and to the media to please help us find our missing loved ones,” Varela said.
At around 4 p.m. on Aug. 17, Varela said her cousin, Michael Anthony David, who works in Singapore, sent them a message through WhatsApp about the details he got from a friend in Shanghai regarding the China Eastern plane.
They learned that the Aug. 10 China Eastern Flight MU 211 did not land in Shanghai but instead at Wuhan Tianhe International Airport in Hubei province.
To their surprise, Varela said they were informed by the China Eastern Shanghai office that there was no alleged hotel booking record for the concerned three passengers.
On Aug. 11, one of their relatives, Marlon David, who was at the NAIA Terminal 1 to fetch their aunts, received a Viber call at 2:12 a.m. from Linda Varela Guce using mobile number +639158458774 under the name “Alzor” telling them that their flight was canceled and they got stranded due to typhoon Hanna.
“Auntie Linda told Marlon to go home and will make updates about their rescheduled flight. She said that the airline is going to shoulder their hotel accommodation and meals. But no specific details were given as to their whereabouts and the name of the hotel they are going to stay,” Varela narrated.
Linda reportedly informed Marlon that she just used the phone of one of the stranded Filipino passengers whose name was not mentioned.
The relatives contacted the China Eastern Airlines office in Makati City but were reportedly told that they have no access to the details of rebooked flights of the passengers and were advised to contact the airline’s office in Shanghai.
She said they called up the China Eastern Airlines Shanghai customer care contacts +862195530 and +862162686268, but both numbers cannot be reached.
Another relative, Violeta Varela Dungo, who hosted the three in New Jersey, called up the China Eastern Airlines office in New York on Aug. 13 to inquire about their whereabouts but was merely told to just leave her message.
On Aug. 15, Varela said Alta Dee David, the wife of Michael Anthony, informed the Philippine Consulate in Shanghai, China about the missing people.
Varela said they have not received any information to this date. (Roy Mabasa)