OFWs Laud TRO Order vs Terminal Fee Integration

MANILA – Organizations belonging to the #Noto550 Coalition welcomed the temporary restraining order stopping the integration of airport terminal fees in international tickets on November 1.

Susan Ople of the Blas F. Ople Policy Center, one of the members of the coalition, thanked Pasay City Judge Tingaraan Guiling of Regional Trial Court Branch 109 “for his timely decision”.

“After hearing the arguments of both parties as to the urgency of the issuance of TRO, the Court believes that there is a need to restrain respondents from implementing Memorandum Circular No. 8 series of 2014 and hereby grants the same,” Guiling wrote in his order which was released on Friday.

Ople said the Circular of the Manila International Airport Authority (MIAA) was supposed to take effect on November 1. The circular mandates airline and travel agencies to integrate the terminal fee of P550 in the price of airline tickets.

She added that the court’s decision was in response to a petition for certiorari with request for temporary restraining order filed by 21 individual petitioners representing 14 OFW groups and non-government organizations last Wednesday.

The first hearing was held yesterday with lawyers from both the respondents and petitioners present. Atty. Apollo Sangalang appeared for the petitioners while the DOTC and MIAA were represented by Assistant Solicitor Tristan Carlos Cristobal assisted by Attys. Donna Diana Dumpit and Princess Jasmin Logronio.

The petitioners were led by OFW Party-List Representative Roy Seneres, and included OFW advocates Gemma Comiso, Nelson Ramirez, Beinvenido Lorque, Carmelita Nuqui, Ellen Sana, Alfredo Palmiery, Elso Cabangon, Rodolfo Rashid Fabricante, Francisco Aguilar, Sister Teresa Evaso, Luther Calderon, Fe Nicodemus, Rep. Mohammad Omar Fajardo, Edward Era, Milagros Juare, Rildga Ongcal, Susan Cuenca and Patrick Itao.

“This shows that our justice system does work,” Lito Soriano, a former OFW based in Saudi Arabia who now heads LBS Recruitment agency, said.

The #Noto550 Coalition believes that the DOTC and MIAA should respect the exemptions bestowed to OFWs through Republic Act No. 8042 as amended by RA 10022. MIAA executives have said in previous dialogues that the number of OFWs that buy air tickets are smaller compared to the over-all population of Filipino and foreign passengers.

“This is not about numbers. This is about a benefit provided by law to our OFWs for the past 19 years – they are exempt from paying the airport terminal fees. Obtaining refunds will not only be extremely difficult for our OFWs but also a clear violation of their rights under existing laws,” the Ople Center stressed.

(Source: ABS CBN News)

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