Press Release
February 21, 2015

Senate asks govt to stop charging airport terminal fees on OFWs -- Koko

Senator Aquilino "Koko" Pimentel III today said government should suspend the collection of terminal fees on travelling Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs), saying it is not urgent to implement the integration of the International Passenger Service Charge (IPSC) on payment of airline tickets.

Pimentel, chairman of the Senate Committee on Justice and Human Rights, said the Senate has recently passed an urgent resolution strongly urging the Manila International Airport Authority (MIAA) to recall the order since there would be no loss of profit on the part of the government.

He said that many Overseas Filipino Workers come from impoverished areas in Mindanao and the Visayas and other parts of Luzon so that he is concerned that the additional cost of terminal fees would cause more hardships on them.

Moreover, he said a mere circular cannot override the provisions of the Migrant Workers and Overseas Filipinos Act of 1995 (Republic Act No. 8042) as amended by RA 10002 that exempts OFWs from paying travel tax, airport fee or terminal fee, and documentary stamp tax.

Pimentel said MIAA Circular No.8, Series of 2014 that integrates the terminal fees into the payment of airline tickets at the point of sale does not distinguish between exempt and non-exempt passengers when airline tickets are bought online or abroad.

He said the Committee on Public Services, Sub-Committee E chaired by Sen. Cynthia Villar has established that it is not impossible to adopt a computer system that will allow recognition of the exemption of OFWs or online verification of their documents showing exemption.

Pimentel said that the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) has also reiterated its stand that OFWs should not be made to pay the terminal fees even if there is a refund system.

He said the POEA is willing to share its database of OFWs with the airlines to ease the creation of an automated system to exempt the OFWs and other locally-recognized exempt passengers from paying the terminal fees.

Pimentel said the government is protecting the welfare of OFWs in recognition of their significant contributions to the country's economy being the No. 1 dollar earner but they are often exploited by their employers.

The Committee, he said, also cast doubt to the legality of the circular even as it asked transportation officials to recall the controversial order pending the adoption of a system that will automatically exempt the country's migrant workers.

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