An information technology expert from Sto. Tomas, Batangas, is facing charges over a joke that caused the delay of the Cebu Pacific Flight 5J 460 bound for Manila from the Iloilo International Airport in Cabatuan on Thursday night, Dec. 21.

Police Maj. Ricky Waniwan, Iloilo International Airport Police Station chief, said they will charge the suspect, only identified as Andrew, 25, with violation of Presidential Decree 1727 or the Anti-Bomb Joke Law.

Police said the suspect, while on board the plane together with 172 other passengers, was talking to his companion and said:“Nadala naman yung bomba (The bomb was brought).”

The suspect claimed that he was referring to the vacuum-sealed dried fish that emits a smell he likened to a “bomb” when opened.

However, he repeated the statement when asked by the flight crew who overheard the conversation and alerted police and other plane personnel, police said.

The pilot ordered all passengers to deplane, while police conducted paneling with their AVSEU (Aviation Security Unit) 6 and K-9.

The passengers later re-boarded after the paneling result showed no problem.The plane departed at 11:24 p.m., after an almost two-hour delay.

The suspect, now detained at the Cabatuan Municipal Police Station, apologized and maintained that it was only a joke.

He arrived in Iloilo on Monday for IT-related work and was supposed to fly out for Manila on Thursday night.

“We reminded him that it is really prohibited. It is a lesson learned,” Waniwan said.

Iloilo International Airport Manager Manuela Luisa Palma, in a separate interview, said they will press charges, noting that there are posters at the airport reminding passengers of the law.Perla Lena/PNA