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Plantation Bay under probe for discrimination against child with autism

Updated: Jan 23, 2021

Plantation Bay Resort and Spa on Mactan Island in Cebu is under investigation over alleged discrimination against a child with autism.

The Department of Tourism (DOT) said it launched an investigation after a mother’s Facebook post and TripAdvisor comment on the resort went viral over social media.

In a statement issued on Dec. 9, 2020, DOT said it will mete the proper administrative sanctions to the resort after due notice and hearing.

The agency also said it will coordinate with the Department of Justice (DOJ) for its proper action under the Disability Law, under which the aggrieved party may also file the complaint.

Republic Act 7727, or the Magna Carta for Disabled Persons, penalizes discrimination against disabled persons, including individuals who fall under the autism spectrum.

The law defines disabled persons as “those suffering from restriction or different abilities, as a result of a mental, physical or sensory impairment, to perform an activity in the manner or within the range considered normal for a human being.”

It states that “no disabled person shall be discriminated on the basis of disability in the full and equal enjoyment of the goods, services, facilities, privileges, advantages or accommodations of any place of public accommodation by any person who owns, leases, or operates a place of public accommodation.”

A hotel or resort is considered a place of public accommodation, the law states.

In her post on December 6, Mai Pages shared how her son with special needs squeals whenever he is excited. He did so everytime he jumped into the water at the Plantation Bay, which is known for its lagoons. Resort personnel, however, told her to hush her child as shouting was not allowed.

Manny Gonzalez, the resident shareholder, responded to Pages’ comment on TripAdvisor and accused her of lying about her child’s condition. He said uncontrolled shouting is not a symptom of autism and autistic children could not be happy in a public situation.

Gonzalez apologized after his harsh remarks drew widespread criticism.

But he reiterated that it’s a hotel policy to prohibit shouting and keep noise levels down in the pool and restaurants as a safety measure.

“We try to apply this policy even-handedly. As a result of that policy, in almost 25 years we have never had a child die here. A mother’s pride is important, but more important are the lives of the children who come here,” Gonzalez wrote. (Ventures Cebu)

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