Bishops: Audit terminal fees collected from OFWs

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BALANGA City: The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines- Episcopal Commission on Migrants and Itinerant People (CBCP-ECMI) on Friday asked for full accounting of the airport terminal fee of  P550 collected from each departing overseas Filipino worker (OFW).

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“How much has been refunded and where and how much is not yet returned to the OFWs? Where is the money?” Bishop Ruperto Santos of the Diocese of Balanga  and CBCP-ECMI chairman, asked on Friday.

He reminded government officials that the fees came from the blood, sweat and tears of Filipinos working in foreign countries.

“The money should be utilized and spent for the well-being of OFWs. The money belongs to them and no one else,” the Bataan bishop said.

Santos made the call with the termination of the collection of P550 terminal fee from OFWs on April 30 this year.

The Manila International Airport Administration issued Memorandum No. 8, series of 2014, that integrated the International Passenger Service Charge or terminal fee  into all airline tickets “to address the congestion in all NAIA terminals with the increasing number of passengers,” referring to the Ninoy Aquino International Airport.

As granted by law, OFWs are exempted from paying the terminal fee.

“Make no mistake that OFWs are exempted from paying the fee. We in CBCP-ECMI have said that Memorandum No. 8 of MIAA was just a burden and hardship to our OFWs. It does not help them,” the bishop said.

He added that the collection of the terminal fee shows the indifference and insensitivity of government officials under the Aquino administration.

ERNIE B. ESCONDE

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