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No malice intended in Peya booking mess, says Yanyan

03 January 2018

By Daisy CL Mandap

Rhea Donna Boyce
The woman at the center of the airline booking scandal that saw hundreds of home-bound overseas Filipino workers unable to board their flights has insisted there was no intention to cause harm to anyone.

Rhea Donna Boyce, part owner and managing director of PEYA Travel which issued the dud confirmation bookings to more than 600 of its clients, spoke with The SUN on Dec.22, shortly after she declined an offer from the police to make a voluntary statement.

Boyce was nevertheless arrested on Christmas day three days later, and questioned for two days before being released on police bail.

The Filipina known to many in the community simply  as Yanyan, told The SUN during a phone conversation: "PEYA Travel does not have any intention to fool people. No malice was intended".

She was, however, cagey when asked what had caused a huge number of its clients not being issued tickets, and why PEYA failed to warn them in advance about the problem.

“It was an internal problem. Someone tasked to monitor the bookings failed to see that the tickets were not issued,” she said, without naming names.

It was a clear attempt to distance herself from an earlier excuse that a "technical glitch" had caused the problem.

Some industry sources had readily brushed away this excuse, and said PEYA simply did not have the money to buy the air tickets for its clients.

What was not readily apparent, though, was why PEYA had allowed its once formidable name to get tarnished in such a spectacular fashion.

In an earlier interview, Boyce spoke of how angry she was on hearing on Dec. 16 about the looming problem, and how she had bought tickets at $5,000 each, round-trip, to enable some of their clients to fly home as  scheduled.

That time, she said she had paid a premium for the tickets of about 100 clients, just so they could leave. But on hindsight, this could not have been possible as flights to the Philippines starting mid-December are often packed, and 100 additional seats would have been hard to come by, even if one had money to spare.

Boyce said she was willing to refund the money paid by the affected clients, and even hinted at providing freebies to make up for the inconvenience.

To do this, she said she needed some time to sort out the company's finances, including closing down PEYA's branch office in North Point.

“Babayaran ko sila, pero siguro in groups of 30 muna,” she said.

She also said the fact that she chose to stay put in Hong Kong after the scandal unraveled showed she had nothing to hide.

When asked why she slipped out of public view when irate clients began storming her office, Bpyce said it was because she got scared.

“Hinila nung isang Pilipina na nakakilala sa akin ang kamay ko nang minsang lumabas ako,” she said.

Boyce admitted that the booking mess could impact heavily on PEYA's business, but she was confident she could ride out the storm.

“PEYA has learned its lesson, but we have to be tough. What we have to do now is to regain the trust of the public. Pero makakabawi din kami.”

With all that has happened in the days since the first of its OFW clients failed to board their flights home, PEYA would need nothing short of a miracle to get back on its feet.

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