OFWs ask MIAA to Uphold Terminal Fee Exemption

MANILA — Several overseas Filipino workers (OFW) and migrant groups on Sunday called on MIAA general manager Angel Honrado and Malacanang to respect the law and uphold their exemption from paying travel tax and airport terminal fees.

This, after the MIAA started the implementation of the Integrated Passenger Service Charge starting Sunday, February 1. Under this program, passenger terminal fees for international flights will be integrated as a component of the cost of tickets.

The groups, collectively known as #NoTo550Coalition, has asked Honrado and Malacañang to uphold and respect the law, citing the provision in the 19-year old Migrant Workers’ Act of 1995 exempting OFWs from paying travel tax and airport terminal fees specifically Section 35 of R.A. 8042 amended by R.A.10022.

The coalition also reminded Honrado that there is still an ongoing court case Certiorari filed by lawyers of the coalition for writ of preliminary injunction at the Pasay Regional Court branch 109 under Judge Tingaran Guiling who issued a resolution on Nov. 19, 2014 that Memo Order No. 8 was unenforceable for lack of publication.

According to Emmanuel S. Geslani, recruitment consultant migrant groups are wary that with over one million OFWs who are on vacation or renewing their contracts will be purchasing their airline tickets online or ticket offices abroad, the refund process may be too complicated and cumbersome that most, if not all of them, will not bother to get the refund.

“The unrefunded amount may reach over half a billion pesos, or more than P500 million in 2015 alone, which will remain with the coffers of MIAA possibly for the campaign fund of the present administration. Over two million OFWs annually pass through NAIA terminals and half of those OFWs are balikbayans who will dig into their pockets to pay the airport terminal fee which is against the law,” the coalition said in a statement.

The coalition is appealing to airlines to wait for results of court hearings before implementing MIAA’s circular.

“We are appealing to the airlines to wait for the results of the court and congressional hearings before implementing MIAA’s latest circular. Otherwise, they may become a party to what many OFW groups believe to be an unlawful scheme,” the coalition said.

Meanwhile, Philippine Airlines (PAL) has started integrating passenger terminal fees into the cost of tickets.

“This move is being carried out by Philippine Airlines in compliance with the Memorandum of Agreement signed between the Manila International Airport Authority and airline companies operating in the country,” PAL said in a statement.

PAL added that OFWs and athletes with terminal fee exemption certificates issued by the government can present their certificates at ticketing offices, or can get a refund at the airport.

(Source: ABS-CBNnews.com)

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