Labor Secretary Silvestre H. Bello III yesterday urged airline companies to cease and desist from incorporating the cost of travel tax and terminal fees in the cost of their tickets issued to overseas Filipino workers (OFWs).
Bello, in his letter to Director General Jim Sydiongco of the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP), said that OFWs are exempted from paying travel tax and terminal fees based on Presidential Decree No. 1183 and R. A. No.8042, or the Migrant Workers and Overseas Filipino Act of 1995, as Amended by R. A. No. 100022.
“It has come to my attention that the travel tax and terminal fees are being included in the cost of the airline tickets issued to our OFWs. While some OFWs were refunded of these fees at the airport prior to their departure, most of them, however, were not refunded because of lack of awareness about this privilege or lack of time to process their claim for refund,” said Bello.
He also requested the CAAP to remit the travel tax and terminal fees which were not refunded to the OFWs to the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA), an attached agency of the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE).
“Considering that the inclusion of these travel tax and terminal fees in the cost of tickets has been a practice of airline companies for several years, we request that the travel tax and fees collected from our OFWs which were not refunded to them be remitted to the OWWA,” said Bello.
The Labor Secretary also instructed the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) and OWWA to coordinate with CAAP and MIAA on the immediate operationalization of a mechanism for automatic exemption of OFWs in paying of travel tax and terminals.
In his letter, which was copy furnished to Secretary Arthur Tugade of the Department of Transportation, General Manager Eddie V. Monreal of the Manila International Aurport Authority (MIAA), and Atty . Guiller B. Asido of the Tourism Infrastructure and Enterprise Zone Authority, Bello requested the CAAP to make the necessary representation to concerned government offices in various airport terminals to cease and desist from collecting tax and terminal fees from OFWs.
Aside from the said government offices, the following airlines were also provided with the letter: Air Asia, Air Asia Zesr, Air China, Air Niugini, All Nippon Airways, Aiana Airline, Cathay Pacific, Cebu Pacifir Air, China Airline, China Eastern Airline, China Southern Airlines, Delta Air, Dragon Air, Emirates Airlines, Ethiopian Airline, Etihad, Eva Air, Gulf Air, Japan Airlines, Jeju Air, Jet Star Asia, Jin Air, KLM Royal Duth Airlines, Kuwait Airlines, Malaysian Airlines, Mandarine Airlines, Oman Air, PAL Express, Philippine Airlines, Qantas Airlines Qatar Airways, Royal Brunei, Saudia Airlines, Skyjet, Singapore Airlines, Silk Air, Thai Airways, Tiger Air, Tiger Airways, Turkish Airlines, United Airlines, and Xiamen Airlines.