Dec 042014


MANILA, Philippines—“It’s not a problem, so why fix it?”

Akbayan Party-list Rep. Walden Bello told reporters on Thursday that travelers experience no discomfort paying the terminal fee over the counter before boarding their flights.

Bello made the statement after he and OFW Family Club Partylist Rep. Roy Señeres led an ocular inspection of the current process of paying the terminal fee, formally known as the International Passenger Charge, at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (Naia) Terminal 1.

The two lawmakers also went to the Naia 1 to meet the officials of the Manila International Airport Authority (Miaa) and discuss the integration plan which was halted by a Pasay court order.

Earlier, the Pasay Regional Trial Court Branch 109 found the memorandum circular of the Miaa and the Department of Transportation and Communication that sought to include the terminal fee in the tickets as “unenforceable” due to its lack of publication.

The petition for temporary restraining order and injunction was filed by the protesting overseas Filipino workers party-list OFW family Club.

The new scheme, which was scheduled to start on Oct. 1, was aimed at getting rid of long lines of passengers and terminal fee counters.

“The refund system is an added burden to the OFWs. Is there a major discomfort among the non-OFW travelers? We don’t see that because the payment of the terminal fee is the fastest point in the airport processes,” Bello said.

Under the proposed system, the OFWs who are exempted from paying the travel tax and terminal fee by virtue of the RA 10022 or the amended Migrant Workers and Overseas Filipino Workers Act of 1995 will now have to do so when buying the ticket overseas or online.

Bello explained that he has never heard of complaints about the long lines of non-OFW travelers queuing up to pay for the terminal fee.

“We would like to have a dialogue with the Miaa. Hopefully, this will be a step to resolve this issue,” the party-list lawmaker said.

Bello said the committee has made a set of recommendations to the Miaa to resolve the complaints raised by the OFWs.

“One is to withdraw the order. Then they should have more consultations with OFWs. The Miaa should also ask the airlines to devise a program in which those who purchase online can be exempted electronically,” Bello said.

Miaa general manager Jose Angel Honrado defended the integration scheme, saying the exempted OFWs also have to wait in line at the airport to present officers their overseas employment certificates.

Honrado insisted that the scheme is beneficial to most of the travelers using the country’s main gateway.

The Miaa said that in 2013, a total of 7,671,643 passengers departed from Naia and only 1.9 million, or 10 percent, were OFWs.

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