Press Release
February 13, 2015

Pimentel: OFWs are exempted from travel tax and terminal fees; seeks
 recall of order integrating fees in tickets of migrant workers

Senator Aquilino "Koko" Pimentel III today said a mere administrative circular cannot override an existing legislation that grants Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) exemption from payment of travel taxes and terminal fees.

Pimentel renewed his call to set aside the implementation of a circular issued by the Manila International Airport Authority (MIAA) on the integration of the International Passenger Service Charge (IPSC) or terminal fees on travelling OFWs during a recent Senate hearing by the Committee on Public Services.

"The irony is that the circular, in effect, inconveniences those whom the law exempts from payment of the fees in the first place," said Pimentel, chairman of the Senate Committee on Justice and Human Rights, who had earlier filed Senate Resolution 1015 to seek an inquiry in aid of legislation on the circular.

Chaired by Sen. Cynthia Villar, the committee agreed at the end of the hearing to file a Senate resolution urging the MIAA to recall the circular affecting an estimated 1.2 million of the 2 million OFWs who are travelling abroad or returning home.

Pimentel said the Committee noted that the collection of the terminal fees by the airlines would lead to additional income for the airlines since they will be entitled to collect as service charge an amount equal to 3.5 percent of the passenger load.

He pointed out that the long lines at the airports do not happen at the terminal fee payment counters as there are in fact fast moving counters but at the check-in and immigration counters where there are long queues of passengers.

In the same hearing, it was noted that the Philippines is on a unique situation because it has the most number of migrant workers compared to other ASEAN countries and no other country exempts by legislation their migrant workers from payment of travel taxes and airport fees.

MIAA general manager Jose Angel Honrado claimed that seven million passengers line up at airports to pay for terminal fees, and only 200,000 of the two million OFWs who book their tickets online will be affected by the circular.

But Loreto Soriano of the LBD Recruitment Solutions disputed Honrado's claim, saying that 1.2 million travelling OFWs will be affected by the circular since the employers of the migrant workers are contractually bound to pay for their air tickets.

Meanwhile, labor groups, charged that the integration of the IPSC in the airline tickets will raise the cost of hiring OFWs and might even lead to employers charging the country's migrant workers for the terminal fees imposed by the Philippine government.

A representative of Philippine Airlines said that the company would just comply with regulations imposed by government when it is obliged to collect the terminal fees.

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