January 13, 2016
OFW advocate Susan “Toots” Ople today chided the Manila International Airport Authority (MIAA) for its relentless violation of the Migrant Workers’ Act of 1995 in collecting the PhP550-terminal fee from overseas Filipino workers (OFWs).
“There is a continuing injustice going on when OFWs are forced to line up to refund the PhP 550 that they are not even supposed to pay under our law. Some have decided to forego their refunds for fear of missing their flights. Why treat our OFWs this way,?” she said.
Ople is part of a broad coalition of OFW groups that filed a case before the Pasay City Regional Trial Court for a permanent injunction against MIAA’s controversial Memorandum Circular No. 8, s. 2014 which established the refund system for OFWs last year.
“How can a mere memorandum amend a law that has been in effect for 19 years? What happens to the non-refunded OFW-paid terminal fees? How much in non-refunded terminal fees have been raised since MC No. 8 took effect? Millions of OFWs around the world deserve to know these answers,” the president of the Blas F. Ople Policy Center said.
Last year, 20 senators signed Senate Resolution 1179 urging the MIAA to recall the memorandum until after the MIAA and concerned government agencies have found an appropriate computer system that will automatically except OFW from paying the terminal fee.
Under Republic Act 8042 or the Migrant Workers Act, as amended by RA 10022, OFWs are exempted from paying the International Passenger Service Charge (IPSC). Other existing laws also exempt Muslim pilgrims, national athletes, and individuals approved by the Office of the President.
The senatorial candidate of the Nacionalista Party called on MIAA to open more refund counters to service departing OFWs so that they would not miss their flights due to the long queues at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA).
“Common sense na sana iyon na sa laki ng bilang ng mga nagbakasyon na OFWs noong Pasko, ganoon din karami ang babalik sa kanilang trabaho. Bakit naman hindi ito man lang pinaghandaan ng MIAA,? she said.
The Ople Center also received complaints from OFWs who tried but failed to secure a refund in other international airports outside Metro Manila.
“Since MIAA’s jurisdiction is confined to the NAIA terminals, where will OFWs departing from Cebu or Clark, Pampanga or other airports claim their refunds? This has yet to be clarified,” Ople said. (30)
Ferdie J. Maglalang