Plantation Bay's resident shareholder quits after harsh response to mother of child with autism

Rosette Adel - Philstar.com
Plantation Bay's resident shareholder quits after harsh response to mother of child with autism
Photo shows the exterior of the Plantation Bay Resort & Spa in Cebu.
Plantation Bay Resort & Spa on Facebook

MANILA, Philippines — Manny Gonzalez, resident shareholder at a Cebu resort and who recently made headlines for the poor handling of a guest's complaint, on Tuesday tendered resignation effective the same day.

Mactan-based Plantation Bay Resort and Spa made the announcement on Tuesday.

In a statement, Gonzalez issued an apology for his “error of judgment.”

“To protect our staff from further indignities, with sincere apologies for my error of judgment which led to so much trouble to many innocent people, I have decided to resign from the position of Resident Shareholder,” Gonzalez said.

Gonzales last week drew flak after his negative response to a review by a mother of a child with special needs went viral.

Mai Pages, a resort guest and mother to a six-year-old child with autism, complained about an alleged “discriminating” experience during her stay in the resort via the travel review website Trip Advisor.

She described the resort as "not an ideal place for a child with special needs."

In a now-deleted response to the review, Gonzalez claimed that Pages is “most likely deliberately lying.” He cited that “uncontrolled shouting is not a symptom of autism” and asked pages to verify this.

"Google 'Autism' and verify this for yourself. Therefore this parent is most likely deliberately lying, or has been given an incorrect diagnosis of autism, when what the child more likely has is a lack of discipline due to simple parental neglect,” Gonzalez wrote.

The response, perceived to be harsh by persons with disability advocates and other online users circulated online drawing criticisms against Gonzales.

Gonzalez has since issued a public apology saying he was “wrong to question the mother’s motives and deeply regret leaving the impression that we are not supportive of the community of parents with children who have special needs.”

He maintained that keeping noise levels down in the pool and restaurants is a policy of the resort to maintain the safety and relaxation for all guests. He added that this is applied 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 children who come here. Regardless, I handled this case poorly, and apologize to all the parties who felt offended by my reply," he also said.

Despite this apology, the Department of Tourism last December 9 launched into the reported poor handling of guest complaint and coordinated with the Department of Justice for the investigation.

The DOT said the aggrieved party may also complaint under the Disability law.

In December last year, Gonzales also earned criticism for his statement on alleged food poisoning at the resort where he chided the alleged victims for slandering Plantation Bay.

Meanwhile, following the resignation of Gonzalez, the management of the Plantation Bay and Resort and Spa said it “is assessing current protocols in place and has pledged to initiate more proactive efforts and implement necessary changes within the week.”

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