Pimentel questions planned integration of terminal fees into airfare
MANILA, Philippines–Senator Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III wants the Senate to look into the planned integration of terminal fees into airfare starting Nov. 1, 2014, saying this would violate an existing law exempting overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) from paying such fees.
Pimentel said he would file a resolution calling for an inquiry into the Manila International Airport Authority’s (MIAA) Memorandum Circular No. 08, which states that “terminal fees otherwise known as international passenger service charge (IPSC) amounting to P550 per passenger will be integrated in all air tickets, subject to remittance to MIAA by international airlines.”
The circular states that: “OFWs who purchase their tickets in the Philippines will be able to claim their exemption by showing their overseas employment certificate (OEC) issued by the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA). However, for tickets that OFWs will purchase online and outside the country, the IPSC will be collected by default subject to refund by returning OFWs upon presentation of their OECs at the airport’s designated counters or through the MIAA office.”
“They want to violate an existing law exempting our OFWs from paying terminal fees. What for?” Pimentel said in a statement on Wednesday, referring to the Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) and the MIAA.
“Removing the terminal fee counters at the airport will not ease congestion because you will have another line where our modern-day heroes need to line up to refund a fee that they are legally exempted from paying. This new scheme should be scrapped because it is illogical, legally questionable, and extremely unfair to our OFWs,” he said.
Pimentel echoed Labor Secretary Rosalinda Baldoz’ position that the OFWs should be automatically exempted from paying the IPSC even for tickets purchased abroad or via online .
“This is pursuant to Republic Act (RA) 8042 as amended by RA 10022 that mandates the exemption of migrant workers from the payment of the travel tax, documentary stamp and airport fee upon proper showing of proof of entitlement which is the OEC issued by the POEA,” Baldoz said in her letter to the Department of Transportation and Communications (DOLE).
Pimentel said the DOLE’s position was clear that MIAA and the DOTC should undertake all the necessary preparations and systems to ensure the continued automatic exemption of OFWs from payment of terminal fee and other fees provided by existing laws.
“We cannot have two major departments at odds with each other over the collection of terminal fees by airline companies. By default, this scheme will deprive our OFWs of a benefit that they have been enjoying since 1995, when the Migrant Workers’ Act was passed. While we favor moves to ease the congestion in our airport terminals, existing laws must be respected,” said the senator.
He said airline companies should not be caught in between such differences in opinion between the DOTC and DOLE.
“Let’s resolve these issues by hearing all sides, and agreeing on a common interpretation of what the law actually says. Definitely, we will question the DOTC and MIAA on why they continue to insist on a November 1 implementation of the IPSC scheme even after getting the position of the Secretary of Labor as well as various OFW groups about this matter,” Pimentel added.
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