The Department of Tourism in Central Visayas (DOT-7) has fined Plantation Bay Resort on Mactan Island P10,000 and gave it a warning after its mishandling of a guest and her child with autism last month.
DOT-7 director Shalimar Tamano told the establishment of their decision last Dec. 30. It read: “This letter serves as your first warning as a clear violation of the Department’s Memorandum Circular against acts or omissions deemed detrimental to the tourism industry and that repeated offenses which are similar in nature shall warrant penalties with increasing gravity in the future.”
Among other modifications to their policies, the resort’s general manager Cherry Allego announced that they would be holding “learning sessions” for managers and staff with regards to handling guests with disabilities.
Early last month, a TripAdvisor review of Plantation Bay went viral, with a guest, Mai Pages, narrating how she and her son with special needs were “discriminated and excluded” when two lifeguard told her to stop her son from squealing while playing in the pool.
According to Pages, her son would make squealing sounds whenever he felt excited or happy.
Manny Gonzalez, a resident shareholder, wrote in a now-deleted comment, that loud noises were not a characteristic of autism, and that Pages was “most likely deliberately lying” or had been given a misdiagnosis of autism, even going so far as to tell her to check Google and “verify this for yourself.”
The comment drew the public’s ire, especially those of parents with special needs children. Autism Society Philippines slammed Plantation Bay management’s action, declaring a need for disability sensitivity training and a review of their policies and procedures in compliance with the Magna Carta for Persons With Disability.
Gonzalez has since stepped down from his post, to “protect our staff from further indignities.”