Press Release
January 31, 2015


Senator Sonny Angara has appealed to airport and transport authorities to ensure that overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) would not be overburdened by the integration of airport terminal fees into prices of plane tickets, stressing the government's commitment to protect the welfare and interest of the country's modern-day heroes.

The Manila International Airport Authority (MIAA) has issued Memorandum Circular No. 8 in September last year which seeks to integrate the International Passenger Service Charge (IPSC) or commonly known as airport terminal fee amounting to P550 into the cost of plane tickets to address the congestion in all Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) terminals by trimming down the processing time of passengers.

The OFW sector is objecting this move, arguing that the MIAA circular is a clear violation of a law granting exemption to OFWs from paying airport terminal fees and travel taxes as prescribed by the Migrant Workers and Overseas Filipino Act of 1995 as amended by Republic Act 10022.

"We passed a law exempting OFWs from paying airport terminal fees in recognition of their great contribution and sacrifice for the country. I hope the authorities do not render this exemption meaningless by making it difficult for our OFWs to refund the terminal fee," said Angara, acting chair of the labor, employment and human resources development committee.

The MIAA circular was supposed to take effect in November last year but the Pasay Regional Trial Court found it "unenforceable" due to the lack of publication required for its implementation.

Early this year, MIAA has announced that it has complied with the publication requirement and will proceed with the integration of fees beginning February 1. OFWs who will purchase air tickets abroad or online would have to line up for a refund once they are in the country.

"OFWs are already required to pay so many fees prior to departure and to impose an additional payment for the terminal fee, even if it can be refunded, is an unwelcome development. While I recognize the laudable intent behind the new IPSC scheme of MIAA, the process of refund might involve cumbersome procedures that may lead to inconvenience and delays, and add to the already stressful experience of our migrant workers.

"Safeguards must be adopted to ensure that the exemptions enjoyed by our OFWs for almost two decades would be preserved without any preconditions," said Angara, who met with various OFW organizations and advocates to hear their sentiments and concerns about the impact of the integration of terminal fees on the OFW sector.

MIAA has earlier pointed out it will be providing for the establishment of refund counters taking into account passengers who are exempted from the payment of IPSC.

However, the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) and the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) have expressed their opposition and reiterated their stand "to still automatically exempt the OFWs from paying IPSC even for tickets purchased abroad or via online."

"Para sa ating mga OFW na nagtatrabaho bilang domestic worker, isang buong araw na pagod at trabaho na nila 'yung halagang P550. Paano kung hindi na nila ito mai-refund? Sana ay maunawaan rin ng ating mga awtoridad na ang maiksing panahon na sana'y nakalaan para makapiling ng ating mga OFW ang kanilang pamilya ay mababawasan pa dahil sa bagong patakarang ito," Angara added.

The lawmaker is urging airport authorities to make sure that they would provide the fastest, smoothest and most efficient possible way to guarantee that our OFWs will get their refunds.

"MIAA and the DOTC should listen closely to the sentiments of millions of overseas Filipino workers considering their collective contributions to the country. It is our duty as public officials to listen to all sides and to make sure that public policy does not stand in the way of existing rights granted by law to certain sectors of society," Angara stressed.

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