SENATOR Cynthia Villar yesterday said she will recommend to the Manila International Airport Authority to put up an online verification system for the refund of airport terminal fees paid by overseas Filipino workers.
She said the verifications system should be made in coordination with the POEA and the Bureau of Immigration to make it easier for OFWs who have left the Philippines to request for a terminal fee refund.
“We need an online platform that would make it easier for our OFWs to claim their refunds which may soon reach a billion pesos,” said Villar as she thanked MIAA general manager Ed Monreal for reversing the policy of the previous administration to collect airport terminal fees from OFWS.
Villar noted that former MIAA General Manager Angel Honrado backed up by then Transportation and Communications Secretary Emilio Abaya Jr., proceeded to collect the P550 terminal fee from OFWs on Feb. 1, 2015.
This was made despite the overwhelming objections of OFWs and civil society groups such as the Blas F. Ople Policy Center, Migrante International, and the Philippine Migrants Rights Watch.
“I am happy that the new MIAA general manager, Ed Monreal is attuned to President Duterte’s policy of treating our modern-day heroes with respect and compassion,” said Villar.
“We in the Senate have always believed that the integration of terminal fees in airport tickets can be accomplished without having to tread on the toes of millions of our OFWs. In fact, I had made repeated appeals to the MIAA, DOTC and the DOST to look at IT solutions to spare our OFWs from paying a fee that the law exempts them from,” added Villar.
The senator presided over a series of Senate hearings held last year on the issue of terminal fees for OFWs where she took to task Honrado for implementing Memorandum Circular No. 8 without any public hearings or direct consultations with the OFW sector.
According to Monreal, efforts are now under way to modify the collection system so that OFW exemptions as mandated under the Migrant Workers Act of 1995 and its amendatory law, Republic Act No. 10022, will not be affected.
MIAA sources said more than a billion pesos has been collected since the inclusion of terminal fees in air tickets with half of this amount still unclaimed by some OFWs making it part of MIAA’s general fund.
The exemption will be fully implemented by March 2017 to “give airlines time to update their programs and systems for this policy.”