OFWs, Kin March to Mendiola to Oppose Airport Terminal Fee Integration

2015-0205 OFWs, Kin March to Mendiola to Oppose Airport Terminal Fee Integration

OFWs and their relatives opposing airport terminal fee integration during a protest-rally on Mendiola Street in San Miguel, Manila on Wednesday, February 4, 2015. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO

MANILA, Philippines – Hundreds of overseas Filipino workers (OFW) and their families on Wednesday marched to Mendiola to protest the airport terminal fee integration scheme of the Manila International Airport Authority (MIAA), which was implemented last Sunday, February 1.

Citing an existing law that provides an exemption for OFWs from paying such fees, the #Noto550 Coalition composed of some 30 OFW groups, including non-government organizations in Saudi Arabia, Hong Kong and Italy, denounced MIAA’s move to implement the integration of the so-called International Passenger Service Charge in all air tickets.

Carrying placards, the OFWs and their relatives asked the government to respect the law.

The groups scored MIAA executives for implementing the IPSC inspite of an ongoing case before the Pasay City Regional Trial Court-Branch 109.

The groups said Judge Tingraan Guiling has yet to render a decision on the coalition’s motion for a preliminary injunction. The court has scheduled a hearing on the case on February 6 while the Senate Committee on Public Services will begin its inquiry into the IPSC on February 9.

“We were taken by surprise because MIAA chose to disregard the ongoing legal process and congressional hearings on the IPSC. For us, MIAA acted in defiance of the two branches of government,” the coalition members said.

Under the IPSC, the P550-airport terminal fee is integrated in all air tickets but OFWs who purchase their tickets online or overseas will need to line up to claim a refund at the airport terminals.

The Migrant Workers’ Act of 1995 exempts OFWs from paying airport fees and the travel tax upon their presentation of their overseas employment certificate issued by the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration.

However, under MIAA’s IPSC scheme, only OFWs who buy their tickets within the country can avail of the exemption since they are able to presentg their OEC to the airline or travel agent, according to the coalition. Those who are outside the country would have to pay the integrated fee and line up for a refund.

The coalition also questioned the propriety of collecting terminal fees from OFWs who would have a difficult time lining up to claim a PHP550 refund since most of these workers are only given limited time by their employers to be with their families. “

The cumbersome and inconvenient process of refund confronting OFWs will result in millions of pesos in non-refunded terminal fees in the hands of MIAA. What is the legal basis for MIAA to collect the IPSC from OFWs who are legally exempted from paying the same, only to hold on to the non-refunded without even a fig leaf of a law to govern these funds?” the coalition said.

Leaders of #Noto550 met with Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO) Secretary Herminio “Sonny” Coloma after the rally to formally hand over their position paper and letter to President Benigno Aquino III. In their letter, the OFW groups stressed that the government must respect the law particularly the Migrant Workers’ Act of 1995 as amended by Republic Act No. 10022 on terminal fee exemptions for OFWs.

“Respect the law. That is all we ask, Mr. President,” the coalition members said.

Coloma promised to inform the President about the sentiments and concerns raised by the OFW groups during the dialogue.

The coalition is composed of more than thirty organizations including: Philippine Migrants Rights Watch, Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines-Episcopal Commission for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant People, United Filipino Seafarers, the Blas F. Ople Policy Center, Trade Union Congress of the Philippines, LBS Recruitment, Inc, Federated Association of Manpower Exporters, Inc, OFW Family Party-List, Pinoy Expats/OFW Blog Awards, Filipino Migrant Workers Group, OFW Movement, Daughters of Charity Migrants Desk, Kabalikat ng Migranteng Pilipino, Ang Bagong Bayani OFW Labor Party, Filipino Lifeline, Kapisanan ng mga Kamaganak ng Migranteng Manggagawang Pilipino, Patnubay Riyadh, Ang Nars Party-List, Office of Senator Cynthia Villar, Task Force OFWs Italy, Global Asia Alliance, Philippine Recruitment Agencies Accredited to Saudi Arabia, and Pinoy Tayo SanMan (HongKong), OFWs in Afghanistan.

(Source: InterAksyon.com)

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