PB backs dropping terminal fees for OFWs
Michael Vencynth H. Braga/JMD (The Freeman) - February 25, 2015 - 12:00am

CEBU, Philippines - The Cebu Provincial Board is backing the call for Manila International Airport Authority to recall or "hold in abeyance" the memorandum circular that imposes a terminal fee of P550 on Overseas Filipino Workers.

The province's legislative body approved a resolution during its regular session on Monday expressing its support to the call made by the senators.

The Senate passed a resolution last week to recall Memorandum Circular No. 8 Series of 2014, which integrates the international passenger service charge (IPSC) into the airline tickets at the point of sale.

The memorandum was implemented starting February 1 this year.

In a resolution sponsored by board member Jude Sybico, the PB said the memorandum is not in adherence to Republic Act 8042 (Migrant Workers and Overseas Filipinos Act of 1995), as amended by RA 10022, which exempts OFWs from paying the travel tax, airport terminal fee "upon proper showing of Overseas Employment Certificate issued by the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration.

"All accolades and praises said in honor of our OFWs as modern heroes of our country would sound like a hollow and cunning slogan if we continue to burden them with a financial charge from which they are clearly and positively made exempt," part of the PB resolution read.

Copy of the resolution will be furnished to MIAA general manager Jose Angel Honrado.

Senators Cynthia Villar, Aquilino "Koko" Pimentel III, Nancy Binay and Senate majority leader Alan Cayetano initiated the resolution calling for the recall of the memorandum. The resolution was also signed by 16 more senators.

The senators, as quoted in the press statement posted on the Senate official website, suggested recalling the memorandum "until after the appropriate computer system that will automatically exempt OFWs as well as other locally-recognized exempt passengers from paying the IPSC or airport terminal fee" has been established.

MIAA had explained that the memorandum was made "to address the congestion in all Ninoy Aquino International Airport terminals with the increasing volume of passengers."

But Villar contended "if the change would affect the rights of a vulnerable and valuable sector such as our OFWs or migrant workers, then we have to exhaust all efforts to further look into these and find ways on how to remedy it or improve the mechanism of its implementation so as not to unnecessarily inconvenience our OFWs."

The Senate also pointed out in its resolution that "the memorandum circular does not distinguish between exempt and non-exempt passengers when airline tickets are bought online or abroad, thereby requiring even exempt passengers, especially OFWs, to pay the IPSC."

In a hearing of the Senate Committee on Public Services Subcommittee E presided by Villar, John Dennis Poyotas of Microsoft Philippines testified that it is possible to adopt a computer program that will allow recognition of the exemption of OFWs or the online verification of documents showing exemption of OFWs.

The Mactan-Cebu International Airport Authority, on the other hand, made an assurance during a public hearing last year that no terminal fee will be collected from OFWs.

The Mactan airport is also the country's main air gateway apart from NAIA. —(FREEMAN)

ALAN CAYETANO BUT VILLAR CEBU PROVINCIAL BOARD JOHN DENNIS POYOTAS OF MICROSOFT PHILIPPINES JOSE ANGEL HONRADO JUDE SYBICO MACTAN-CEBU INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT AUTHORITY MEMORANDUM OFWS RESOLUTION
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