Press Release
April 20, 2015

Senators, OFW groups, ask Ombudsman to stop implementation of MIAA terminal fee memo

Senators and representatives of overseas Filipino worker groups have asked the Ombudsman to intervene and block the implementation of a memorandum allowing the collection of terminal fees to exempted air passengers.

In a 5-page letter to Omb. Conchita Carpio-Morales dated March 26, 2015, Senators Aquilino Pimentel III and Cynthia Villar, along with OFW groups and stakeholders, invoked "the corrective hand of the Ombudsman to order the Manila International Airport Authority (MIAA) to recall its unlawful and unjust Memorandum Circular 08 Series of 2014."

"The MIAA continues its unjust refusal to recall MC 08 s. 2014 despite the legal issues surrounding its issuance," they cited.

Section 15(2) of the Ombudsman Act of 1989 states the power of the Office of the Ombudsman to direct any government-owned or controlled corporation with original charter to perform a duty required by law and to stop and correct any form of abuse.

The MIAA memo issued in September 2014 and implemented on February 1, 2015, mandates the integration at point of sale of the international passenger service charge (IPSC), also known as the terminal fee, into the airline ticket of a passenger from Manila, for tickets purchased online or abroad.

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.

"For these exempted persons, said circular provides a system of refund. This is the very heart of the opposition of the OFWs, the most affected group, against MC 08 s. 2014, as it is their view that making OFWs pay the IPSC violates their existing statutory exemption," the letter said.

Also cited in the letter are the efforts of the Senate to stop the implementation of the memo, including Proposed Senate Resolution No. 1179 signed by 20 senators, urging the recall of the directive until after MIAA and the concerned government agencies and stakeholders have found an appropriate computer system that will automatically exempt OFWs and the other exempted persons.

"The MIAA should not be allowed to trample on the statutory right of our OFWs to exemption. After all, the law is supreme over a mere administrative issuance," they stressed.

The letter was also signed by representatives from OFW Family Party-list, Pinoy Expats/ OFW Bloggers Awards Inc., Philippine Migrants Rights Watch, Blas F. Ople Policy Center and Training Institute, Federated Association of Manpower Exporters, Inc., United Filipino Seafarers, Daughters of Charity Migrants Desk, Kabalikat ng Migranteng Pilipino, Filipino Migrant Workers Group, Filipino Lifeline, Inc., OFW Movement, Center for Migrant Advocacy Philippines, LBS Recruitment Solutions Corp., Ang Bagong Bayani OFW Labor Party, Kapisanan ng mga Kamag-anak ng Migranteng Manggagawang Pilipino, Inc., Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines- Episcopal Commission for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant People, Seafarers' Advocate, Patnubay Org, and Philippine Recruitment Agencies Accredited to Saudi Arabia (PRAASA).

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