Press Release
October 15, 2015

Villar seeks review of memo directing exempted OFWs to pay terminal fees

Sen. Cynthia Villar filed a resolution seeking a review of the implementation of a memorandum integrating the terminal fee in the purchase of airline tickets.

Proposed Senate Resolution No. 1609 directs the Committee on Government Corporations and Public Enterprises, chaired by Villar, to conduct an inquiry into the powers and mandate of the Manila International Airport Authority (MIAA), in the light of its implementation of Memorandum Circular No. 8, Series of 2014.

"We have received reports that congestion in the airport terminals remains the same and that numerous OFWs failed to get refunds. We also want to know whether or not it is true that there have been delays in the remittance of terminal fees collected by the airlines," Villar said. The MIAA memo issued in September 2014 and implemented on February 1, 2015, mandates the integration at point of sale of the international passenger service charge (IPSC), also known as the terminal fee, into the airline ticket of a passenger from Manila, for tickets purchased online or abroad.

"There is a need to revisit the alleged objectives of the MIAA memo and the results of its implementation in order to enable the Senate to determine whether said directive has indeed eased congestion in the terminals as envisioned by the MIAA Board," Villar said.

The Nacionalista Party senator said she fears the memo was detrimental not only to the OFWs who are unduly burdened by the refund procedure but also to the government which is likewise unduly burdened with having to handle the matters of the delayed remittance and the money that have not been refunded to the exempted OFWs.

Twenty senators have crossed party lines and authored Proposed Senate Resolution No. 1179 urging the recall of the memorandum until after MIAA and the concerned government agencies and stakeholders have found an appropriate computer system that will automatically exempt OFWs and other exempted persons.

Villar, together with Sen. Aquilino Pimentel III and representatives of OFW groups, have also asked the Ombudsman to intervene and block the implementation of the memorandum.

"The MIAA continues its unjust refusal to recall MC 08 s. 2014 despite the legal issues surrounding its issuance," they cited.

The senators and stakeholders contend that under Republic Act 8042 or the Migrant Workers Act, as amended by RA 10022, exempts OFWs from paying the IPSC. Existing laws also exempt Muslim pilgrims, national athletes, and individuals approved by the Office of the President.

"For these exempted persons, said circular provides a system of refund. This is the very heart of the opposition of the OFWs, the most affected group, against MC 08 s. 2014, as it is their view that making OFWs pay the IPSC violates their existing statutory exemption," the group's letter to Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales said.

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