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Go easy on our heroes, the OFWs

12:41 AM February 04, 2015

On Feb. 1, the Manila International Airport Administration (Miaa) pushed through with the implementation of its Memorandum Circular No. 08. This integrates airport terminal fee of P550 into the airline fare of outgoing international passengers, including our overseas Filipino workers.

I, however, find it unconscionable for MIAA, under General Manager Jose Angel A. Honrado, to keep on ignoring our opposition to this circular on International Passenger Service Charge, which blatantly violates the 1995 Migrant Workers Act, as amended by Republic Act No. 10022.

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Last I checked, under our existing laws, OFWs are granted exemptions from paying travel tax, documentary stamps and airport terminal fees upon proper showing of proof of entitlement, which is the overseas employment certificate issued by the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA).

Incidentally, there is no mention in the law about a process by which to obtain refunds or even for OFWs to pay now and be exempt later. MIAA’s MC 08, I believe, ignores the very spirit and intent of this particular provision of our law that protects the rights of OFWs.

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If the integration policy finally pushes through, as MIAA insists, migrant workers who buy tickets online or whose employers send them e-tickets will be forced to pay the P550 terminal fee despite an exemption that has been in effect for the past 19 years. Already hard-pressed with the skyrocketing prices of basic commodities, our OFWs and their families would continue to bear the brunt of yet additional burden on their shoulders.

What is even more appalling is the fact that Honrado is disregarding our incessant calls to shelve the implementation of MC 08 pending legislative inquiries in the Senate and the House of Representatives or until such time when a system can be developed, in partnership with the POEA and the Department of Foreign Affairs, that enables such integration to push through without prejudice to the existing exemptions meant for OFWs.

I do hope that President Aquino will find it in his heart to heed the plea of our OFWs, “our modern-day heroes,” by shelving the integration of airport terminal fee in airline fares.

—CARMELITA G. NUQUI, president, Philippine Migrants Rights Watch, pmrw@pmrw.org.ph

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TAGS: 1995 Migrant Workers Act, airport terminal fee, Jose Angel A. Honrado, Manila International Airport Administration, Overseas Filipino Workers, Philippine Overseas Employment Administration
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