A party-list lawmaker will push for investigation of the integration of the P550 airport terminal fee in airline tickets for all international passengers, including overseas Filipino workers (OFWs).
ACTS-OFW party-list Rep. John Bertiz 3rd announced his plan on Wednesday even as the Pasay City Regional Trial Court Branch 119 had dismissed for lack of merit a petition questioning the implementation of the International Passenger Service Charge (IPSC) integration in all airline tickets last June 20.
“Without prejudice to a possible motion for reconsideration that may be filed in court, Congress can look into the implementation of the IPSC integration program so that the rights of the OFWs are protected and their benefits are safeguarded,” he said.
Bertiz, a former OFW himself, earlier filed House Resolution (HR) 14, which seeks to direct appropriate House committees to assess the implementation of the IPSC integration program that took effect last February 1.
The IPSC integration program, contained in Memorandum Circular No. 8 issued by the Manila International Airport Administration (MIAA) under then-General Manager Angel Honrado, integrates the P550 airport terminal fee in all airline tickets.
The circular, however, does not distinguish between exempt and non-exempt passengers when airline tickets are bought online or abroad, requiring even exempt passengers, OFWs included, from paying the P550 airport terminal fee.
“In effect,” Bertiz said, “the circular continues to violate the intent of the law because it practically reduces the benefits and privileges granted to all OFWs even if our overseas workers can refund the terminal fee upon showing of their OEC [overseas employment certificate].”t
Under Section 35 of Republic Act 8042, as amended by RA 10022, also known as the Migrant Workers and Overseas Filipino Act, OFWs are exempted from paying travel tax, documentary stamp and airport terminal fee.
In the past 16th Congress, Honrado had promised lawmakers both in the House and the Senate that he will look into a computer system that would automatically exempt OFWs from payment of the terminal fee.
“Since its implementation, the MIAA is yet to come up with an appropriate computer system as it has regarded the matter as not urgent and does not incur a huge loss of profit on the part of the government,” Bertiz noted.
The House resolution seeks to conduct an immediate audit on how much funds were actually collected since the implementation of the collection of the terminal fee, how much funds have remained unclaimed by OFWs and how the past and present leaderships of the MIAA are treating these unclaimed funds.