MANILA (DWDD) – Sen. Cynthia Villar welcomed the signing of the memorandum of agreement scrapping the payment of airport terminal fees by overseas Filipino workers and other persons exempted by the law.
The Manila International Airport Authority (MIAA) and representatives from 40 air carriers signed the agreement at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport Terminal 3.
Under the agreement, OFWs, and other exempted persons, will not have to pay the P550 International Passenger Service Charge (IPSC), or the P200 Domestic Passenger Service Charge (DPSC) upon face-to-face purchase of tickets here or abroad starting April 30, 2017. Exemption for online ticket purchase will start on July 31, 2017.
“This is a welcome development, a step in the direction of streamlining the processes our OFWs have to go through at our airports. It has always been my position that the integration of terminal fees in plane tickets doesn’t have to be done in a way that will inconvenience and violate the rights of our OFWs,” Villar said.
Villar also took note of reports saying that some P1.5 billion worth of terminal fees was unclaimed by OFWs and exempted individuals.
“What will now happen to the unrefunded terminal fees? Such funds held in trust cannot be spent in the absence of a clear policy,” she added.
Upon face-to-face purchase of tickets, OFWs must present any one of the following documents to avail of the exemption: overseas employment certificate (OEC), photocopy of a valid work visa or permit; employment contract; current employment certificate, or recent pay slip.
OFWs and other exempt passengers can still claim for refund of terminal fees until April 29, 2018 at airport refund counters. Afterwhich, refund will be claimed at MIAA. Since the implementation by the previous MIAA Board of Memorandum Circular 08 s. 2014 in 2015, Villar has made repeated appeals to the MIAA, Department of Transportation and Communication and the Department of Science and Technology to look at IT solutions to spare OFWs from paying a fee that the law exempts them from.
The senator also presided over a series of Senate hearings on the issue of terminal fees for OFWs where she took then General Manager Honrado to task for implementing Memorandum Circular No. 8 without any public hearings or direct consultations with the OFW sector.
Twenty senators have also crossed party lines and authored Proposed Senate Resolution No. 1179 urging the recall of the memorandum until after MIAA and the concerned government agencies and stakeholders have found an appropriate computer system that will automatically exempt OFWs and other exempted persons.
Villar, together with Sen. Aquilino Pimentel III and representatives of OFW groups, have also asked the Ombudsman to intervene and block the implementation of the memorandum.
The senators and stakeholders contend that under Republic Act 8042 or the Migrant Workers Act, as amended by RA 10022, exempts OFWs from paying the IPSC. Existing laws also exempt Muslim pilgrims, national athletes, and individuals approved by the Office of the President. SENATE / MCAG