• Aquino administration again betrays the OFWs—and the people

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    THANK God for the judiciary, another Aquino administration act of betrayal of our Overseas Filipino Workers has been stopped. But only for 20 days, which will be up today!

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    This betrayal is the integration of airport terminal fees with the price of airline tickets.

    Our economic heroes, the OFWs, are exempted by law from paying the P550 Philippine airport terminal fee. An estimate places at between 10 million to 11 million the number of Filipinos working abroad. The conventionally accepted estimate is that at least one million Filipinos leave to work abroad annually, some of these first timers, others returning to their employers after a vacation back home and still others regaining new overseas employment after staying home for a period upon coming home on the expiration of their previous overseas contracts.

    If our worker-economic-heroes were not granted this exemption, the government take from each year’s departing one million OFWs would be more than half a billion pesos (P550,000,000).

    The Manila International Airport Authority (MIAA) on Wednesday, Oct. 29, announced that beginning November 1 the P550 terminal fee would be integrated into the cost of airline tickets. Before integration, all OFWs would go to a government counter and get a Certificate of Exemption (COE) from the POEA-Labor Department. With the Certificate, the OFW would not have to pay the P550 terminal fee. After integration of the fee with the cost of the airline tickets, the OFW would have to line up at a counter to get a refund upon showing her or his COE. This would be a tedious process.

    And another oppressive aspect of this integration is that an OFW who buys his or her ticket in a location abroad would not be granted the exemption. This is because foreigners —travel agencies or airline counter personnel—selling the ticket would not recognize the DOLE-POEA- issued COE.

    An alliance of OFW and civil society organizations, labor unions (including the Trade Union Congress of the Philippines or TUCP), and OFW-welfare institutions—among these the Blas F. Ople Policy Center and Training Institute, the Center for Migrant Advocacy, the Philippine Migrants Rights Watch, the Filipino Migrant Workers Group, the Daughters of Charity Migrants Desk, KAMPI, KAKAMMPI—organized protests against the MIAA imposition. They launched the #noto550 Coalition.

    They filed a motion for a temporary restraining order against MIAA General Manager Jose Angel Honrado’s memorandum for the integration to start on Nov. 1. On October 31, Presiding Judge Tingaraan Guling of Pasay City Regional Trial Court Branch 109 directed Transportation Secretary Joseph Emilio Abaya and MIAA chief Angel Honrado to halt implementation of Honrado’s Memorandum Circular No 8 for 20 days.

    The integration of the terminal fee with airline ticket costs violates the Migrant Workers’ Act of 1995. That law, in the words of former senator Ernesto Herrera, a principal author with the late Blas F. Ople, “was one of the ways we could alleviate the financial burdens of OFWs.”

    The OFWs are hailed as our economic heroes. Their remittances have been one of the reasons our economy has “sound fundamentals.”

    But, true to the character the Aquino administration has demonstrated all these four years that it has been in power, it now again betrays the OFWs—and therefore also our people.

    With at least 10 million of them, each one representing a Filipino family, all the OFWs represent at least half of our 100 million population.

    President Aquino, Secretary Abaya and MIAA Boss Honrado, by moving to integrate terminal fees with airline ticket costs, are simply doing their usual thing—stab us, the Filipino people, in the back.

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    14 Comments

    1. Roldan Guerrero on

      Americans,Japanese,Europeans and many other Nationalities travel out of their country for pleasure and adventure and sometimes for business purposes. It so sad and very embarassing to say that most Filipinos traveling abroad are for economic reasons, to seek treasure in foreign land despite most of them are abused, all because this government could not provide them a descent and worth living jobs. After the fall of Marcos, everybody was expecting for a complete turnaround, but what happened? it is a perfect opposite of what we expected. Democracy? Yes, democracy for the people who were deprived of their illegal activities while Marcos is in power. The downfall of Marcos meant the succession of power for the owners of Multinational Companies who could not evade taxes and the Hacienderos who wanted to maintain ownership of their big lands.Brain drain started immediately after Marcos until today, No regime ever cared to produce jobs such that exudos of our skilled workers should end, this government instead promoted the exportation of our manpower. What this government is doing again to the OFW`s is not only its continued act of betraying them but and act of Technical Plunder. Without these OFW`s….sa salitang tagalog, malamang sa kangkongan pupulutin ang gobyernong ito.

    2. The discusssions regarding OFW exemptions is so archaic and also discriminatory. First, OFW’s are exempted from paying terminal fees and travel tax. Tourists or non residents are exempted from travel tax but have to pay terminal fees. But ordinary Pinoy citizens, residents of the country have to pay the terminal fee and the travel tax! Go figure.

      The best solution is to just do away with the terminal fees and travel tax altogether on all travelers, OFW’s, Foreigners, Pinoys. Instead the gov’t replace that with a simple, tiny % surcharge on all tickets whether they are purchased in country, overseas, or online through travel agents or direct, and call it Aviation Safety or something. For example, security and fuel surcharges and other strange fees/charges are already automatically applied on all tickets passing through any airport of that country. No one is whining? Travel tax has been replaced by VAT in most countries for all tickets purchased in the home country. So not only terminal fees and travel tax regressive they are also redundant.

      If a small % surcharge could be applied on all tickets purchased wherever going through Philippine airports, then it solves the issue of terminal fees and travel tax, minuscule pain to all travelers, line ups at airports. Airlines can simply load that in their GDS. No more provisos, exemptions.

      In the past 15 years I’ve traveled to and from many airports in a number of 1st, 2nd, 3rd world countries, they have removed the terminal fee or incorporated that in the ticket for all travelers, except for one country. “Travel Tax” has been replaced by VAT or some other form of levy on all tickets regardless of citizenship or residence. And if I’m not mistaken, the travel tax is really an exit tax on Pinoys, started in the Marcos era. Time to move forward to the 21st century.

    3. This is clearly being politicize and irresponsible reporting. The subject “Aquino administration again betrays the OFWs—and the people”. This is entirely not providing accurate information. Give some credit to where credit is due. This is DOTC’s improvement program to upgrade the current NAIA airport. The implementation of the integration is with caveat as follows;
      The Integration Program honors and recognizes all terminal fee exemptions mandated by law. These are:
      – Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) with valid Overseas Employment Certificates (OECs)
      – Muslim pilgrims endorsed by the National Commission on Muslim Filipinos (NCMF)
      – Athletes endorsed by the Philippine Sports Commission (PSC)
      – Others authorized by the Office of the President for exemption.

      According to DOTC, the P550 terminal fee collected by the Manila International Airport Authority (MIAA) is essential to the continued operations of the airport. Out of this amount, P390 is MIAA’s share for maintenance and upkeep. P100, meanwhile, goes to the national government, and P60 to aviation security.

    4. They should completely drop the terminal fee for EVERYONE. Let the Filipino taxpayer fully fund the operations and maintenance of the airport facility.

    5. I really don’t care if I have to pay P550 for terminal fee, as long as all airport personnel are courteous to all passengers, all bathrooms are clean with running water anytime and the airconditioning system will always be maintained, amongst other things.

      • Absolutely correct! I also don’t mind paying if the money goes to beautification of the entire airports.

    6. democracy is working now in the Phil. compared to the past admin.
      you guys in your country are enjoying the freedom : esp. freedom of speech w/o fear..

      go “TUWID NA DAAN” we, American pinoys are behind you

    7. I have a lot of OFW relatives, but I think the integration is not per se obnoxious as it also provide convenience to millions of other Filipinos (who are not OFW) who are travelling. What I would consider as violation of the OFW law if there would be no reasonable option for the OFW to get their refund. I think whether OFW or not are Filipinos with equal rights before the law, but in recognition of the economic contribution of the OFW there are many special privileges such as tax exemption, travel tax exemption, terminal fee exemption etc… to fall in line for a refund of the terminal fee may not be too much of a violation of OFW privileges.

    8. i cannot understand the reasoning of this incompetent government personnel. they wanted to integrate the terminal fee to the cost of the ticket to earn more in the expense of OFWs. now just for the sum of P550, OFW should queue just to get Cert. of Exemption and another queue again in the airport for refund. what an absurd reasoning and logic. and those OFW who will buy ticket overseas will not get exemption! these people in the government should think 1000 times before they act. OFWs are the modern heroes of the Phil. and yet being treated as what???!!!

    9. The treatment of the OFW’s by this administration is correctly a betrayal. This development will also showcase that PNoy the mischievous does not care about the OFW’s. This also displays that we really have an amateur as President who does not know what to do and what he has done. During the Arroyo term, she saw to it that OFW’s be treated very well, knowing how important they are to our economy. It was during Arroyo’s time that applying for Philippine passports be simplified and it was done, yet when PNoy took over, he never cared about this, leaving this to his puppies. It was also during the term of Arroyo that terminal fees made low and affordable to OFW’s and travelers so they will be encouraged to travel to the Philippines as often as possible. Now, this brainless administration is changing the rules, making it more expensive to be in our airport terminals. What thievery will PNoy and his minions will think next?

    10. Very very good and touching editorial, Manila Times. May you never let up in your support of the OFWs because they–we, po– are really heroes of our country and of our families back home..
      We remember that your Editor Sir Rene Bas publicly, on nationwide TV. after then President Arroyo gave a speech at a Foreign Correspondents Club dinner, pressed her to commit that very night to certify as urgent to Congress the passage of the Overseas Voting Act. She did. And now we OFWs have the vote.
      More power to you, Manila Times.

    11. Kahit noon pa, lahat ng pangagatas ginagawa nila,philhealht, sss, pag-ibig kahit ayaw mo pipilipitin nila ang tao bago umalis,hanggang matuyo!
      Makuha lang nila ang gusto,wala namang kanamang pakinabang at puro dusa!
      Sarili mong pera patutubuan. pa nila kapag kailangan mong magloan,
      Ginigisa tayo sa sariling mantika!
      Ang masakit pagdumating daw ang pension mo, kulang pasa pamasahe ang katubas na ibibigay sa iyo sa mahigit na 20 taon kang maghuhulog ang value ng makukuha mo ay wala pang 20% sa halaga ng bagong minimum sahod,
      Nakakaawa ang lahat ng umaasa ng magandang pension sa pagtanda nila,ngunit ang halaga ng ng makukuha nila ay kulang pa sa ipambibili ng gamot!iba na ang presyo ng gamot pagdating ng 20 years!
      Lahat ng iyan ay raket!
      Isip-isip pag may oras!

    12. Wala na bang maisip na iba? bat kaming mga OFW ang ginagatasan?

      SA LAHAT NG OFW SA BUONG MUNDO, MAG-KAISA RIN TAYO NA HINDI MAGPADALA NG REMITANCE KHIT 1 MONTH LANG. PAKITA NATIN NA BULOK NA GOBYERNO NATIN NA TAYO HINDI PUMAPALA AT PUMIPIKO NG PERA SA IBANG BANSA. LUHA AT PAWIS NATIN ANG PUHUNAN NATIN. SILA? ANO PUHUNAN? LAWAY LANG!!! AKALA MO KUNG SINO SILANG MAGAGALING! MAGAGALING LANG SILANG MAGNAKAW!!!