• Dear Secretary Tugade


    FRIENDS assure me that you are a hard worker. Your integrity is beyond question, they say. I am glad to hear this. Any honest, hardworking man would appreciate the concerns of our overseas workers. Let me raise one particular concern of theirs, through this open letter.

    Secretary Art, millions of overseas Filipino workers have always enjoyed an exemption granted under Republic Act No. 8042, which was later amended by Republic Act No. 10022. That exemption pertains to the payment of airport terminal fees now known as the International Passenger Service Charge (IPSC), and the travel tax. For 19 years, the law excluding OFWs from paying these fees was strictly observed.

    On Feb. 1, 2014, the Manila International Airport Authority (MIAA), under the disastrous leadership of General Manager Jose Angel Honrado, started its unlawful collection of airport terminal fees from our OFWs. Every airline ticket now contained the 550-peso terminal fee.

    Mr. Secretary, our OFWs visiting the country have been paying P550 to an agency that doesn’t even have a system in place to account for such OFW-driven fees, only to be asked to line up before they return to their place of work to retrieve the P550. Ask them, please, Mr. Secretary, how much have been collected from OFWs since the time the IPSC began. Then ask the officials of MIAA how much in non-refunded OFW payments does MIAA have in its possession. They don’t know. No one knows.

    Will you allow this scheme to continue? You certainly have sufficient basis to call for a suspension. Look at the records. Twenty senators signed a resolution calling for the IPSC to be suspended. The Department of Foreign Affairs and the Department of Labor and Employment have issued separate position papers stating that the IPSC violates existing laws protecting the rights and welfare of our modern-day heroes.

    Please, Mr. Secretary, dwell on this. Our government is paying a 3.5-percent service fee to international airlines to serve as the collecting agent for airport terminal fees. And then, MIAA keeps collecting from overseas workers a fee that they are exempted from paying. What kind of agreement is that? How can that even be rational?

    Sagana ang airlines, kawawa ang mga OFWs
    MIAA said that by removing the terminal fee counter it would be easing airport congestion.

    There is a way to address airport congestion. Build a bigger airport. Or look for an IT solution so that OFWs can have the option of not paying the airport terminal fees. Besides, airport congestion is not just because of the terminal fee counter; it is a result of bountiful errors, none of which is the fault of an OFW. They couldn’t even maintain a generator, and yet MIAA is so fixated on the terminal fee counter. What about the long queues that OFWs have to endure just to refund the amount of P550 that was illegally collected in the first place?

    Mr. Secretary, our OFWs came out to vote solidly in favor of change. As Secretary of Transportation, please be the change that we need. Revoke the memorandum circular that was selfishly and incompetently enforced by MIAA. We have no problem with terminal fee integration as long as the exemption granted by law to our OFWs is honored.

    Follow the law. That is all we ask. Godspeed, Mr. Secretary!



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    1. johnny pecayo on

      Hi Toots, Thank you for this request that was published in the Manila Times. I am sure Secretary Tugade would act on your request favorably. I am hopeful he would act with dispatch.
      I read all the comments, and it is sad to note that some kababayans, instead of supporting a legit request, would even make negative comments.

    2. Rolly Nacar on

      Sad to say but it’s the fact – OFW’s have no place in the programs (if there was an honest one)of the previous govt. Ni hindi nga nababanggit ang OFW sa kanyang SONA. Panay pahirap sa mga OFW – laglag-bala, bukas-bagahe, terminal fee,atbp. Hopefully, change is coming under the new administration.

    3. Hi Carmencita! I was never with the previous administration. In fact, our coalition of OFW advocates filed a case against MIAA and the DOTC before RTC Pasay City. Sad news though. I just got word that the judge dismissed our case. :-(

      Thanks for reading my column! God bless!

    4. Dear Secretary Tugade can you plesse investigate the Balik Manggagawa system. As you know every OFW going back they need to have appointment on line to get thier certificate in order OFW csn exit going to thier work abroad.To use this system we need to pay P19.50.Just using thid link ehy need to this amount actuslly it will take 10 minutes to complete your transaction. That’s of money they collect and where these monies goes? Can you please investigate yhis kind of transaction impose by POEA. As OFw we need to know where thid money will ho.

    5. Amnata Pundit on

      If its against the law why doesn’t somebody just throw a criminal case against them right away? Make it non-bailable. And put them in that cage that you featured in your front page today.

    6. P.Akialamiro on

      Perhaps, the collection of the subject fees is not that bad, if only, it can be accounted for. This is a case of subtle ‘corruption’ veiled as a legitmate fee.

      • matagal na po yan pinaglalaban ni mam toots at marami pang iba na nagrerequest na tanggain yan kaso mga bingi po ung dating administrasyon

      • Susan was not part of the previous administration which illegally collected the fees. She currently heads an NGO.

      • @ Carmencita Dizon please do your research hindi po government Official si Mam Susan Toots Ople sa panahon ni Pnoy o Gloria, siya po ay President nang Blas Ople policy Center na isang NGO non government organization na tumutolong sa mga OFW na di pinalad,walang pondo galing sa kaban nang yaman nang Bansa.kaya bago po kayo mag comment po Ano, please research muna po para di nakakahiya po ano.

      • Dear Ms Dizon, we did. A coalition of OFW advocate-NGOs, formers OFWs, recruitment agencies filed a case at Pasay RTC Branch 119. General Honrado, and the Solucitor General ferociously fought and even filed for the inhibition of the judge. The Pnoy government was mighty but has no ears for OFWs.