VERA FILES FACT CHECK: Sotto wrong in claiming only 3 govt officials enjoy ‘priority landing and takeoff’ privileges


Reacting to a Facebook post of a Cebu Pacific Airlines pilot alleging that Vice President Leni Robredo requested priority landing of the plane she was in which delayed and diverted other flights last month, Senate President Vicente Sotto III said there are three government officials who enjoy “priority landing and takeoff” in the country.

Sotto’s statement is false.


In a tweet, Sotto said:

“Unfortunately, that pilot does not know that there are 3 persons in gov[ernment]t that are given landing and takeoff priority in all PH airports as CAAP (Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines) knows.”


Source: Tito Sotto Official Twitter Account, Unfortunately, that pilot… (Archived), May 16, 2022

Sotto was referring to the flight priority that the CAAP grants to the president, vice president, and Senate president.


Sotto is wrong in claiming that only three government officials enjoy priority landing and takeoff for their flights. This courtesy is also extended to the speaker of the House of Representatives, dignitaries, and other “identified” government officials, such as department secretaries, through a “special handling” of their flights. CAAP’s Media Affairs Officer Eric Apolonio told VERA Files Fact Check, however, that this privilege usually applies only to flights involving chartered private aircraft.

In 2016, President Rodrigo Duterte directed the Department of Transportation to advise CAAP to stop the policy of giving priority to the presidential plane, Kalayaan One.

The memorandum, issued on July 28, 2016, noted that the presidential plane should instead be treated “in the same manner as regular flights.”

2016 Memo Re Handling of Pr… by VERA Files


Other public officials granted this privilege, on the other hand, must submit a request to the CAAP at least two days in advance, Apolonio said.

The traffic situation and schedule of flights in an airport are considered before a request for priority is granted if the official is on board a commercial aircraft, he added.

Special handling

  • Applies to the vice president, Senate president,  speaker of the House of Representatives, and guests on government-related work; dignitaries such as ambassadors and department secretaries
  • Gives priority landing and takeoff for chartered private planes for these officials
  • Request must be filed in advance to the CAAP
  • Requires a flight plan submitted at least two days ahead of flight date to the CAAP Air Traffic Service, which provides  assistance  in real-time


The Cebu Pacific pilot, in a May 16 Facebook post, stated without evidence that Robredo “requested” priority landing in an airport in Manila after a “campaign-related activity” in late April.

In a May 17 statement, Sam Avila, the airline’s vice president for flight operations, said the pilot had “made it clear to [them] that he had no basis for his claim and was purely speculative and careless on his part.”(Read VERA FILES FACT CHECK: Robredo did NOT request for priority landing for a flight)

The Office of the Vice President also categorically denied the claim, stating that during Robredo’s entire tenure as vice president, she has “never asked to be prioritized for taking off or landing when traveling by air.”


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Tito Sotto Official Twitter Account, Unfortunately, that pilot… (Archived), May 16, 2022

Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines, Personal communication (Viber message and email), May 17-20, 2022, Presidential perks: Will Rodrigo Duterte shun these?, June 30, 2016, Quiboloy willing to donate jet, helicopter to Duterte, May 15, 2016

Gulf News, Marcos-era presidential jet to get replacement, Oct. 8, 2019

Cebu Pacific Official Facebook Account, STATEMENT ON SOCIAL MEDIA POST BY A CEBU PACIFIC PILOT, May 17, 2022

Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines, Memorandum Order, July 28, 2016



(Guided by the code of principles of the International Fact-Checking Network at Poynter, VERA Files tracks the false claims, flip-flops, misleading statements of public officials and figures, and debunks them with factual evidence. Find out more about this initiative and our methodology.)