Labor Secretary Silvestre H. Bello III yesterday threatened legal action against airline companies to compel them to immediately stop the collection of travel tax and terminal fees from overseas Filipino workers.
“The continuous collection of travel tax and terminal fees from OFWs is not correct because the law exempting them took effect three years ago. They should have stopped the collection as early as three years ago,” Bello said.
The labor chief was reacting to reports that airline companies will only cease collecting the fees starting April 30.
Bello said there was no legal basis for the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP) and airline companies to collect the travel tax and terminal fees from OFWs as they are exempted 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. 10022.
CAAP administers the collection of prescribed charges and fees pertinent to the operation of public air services, as well as maintains national airports and air navigations.
"(We) will confer with the Office of the Solicitor General to come up with the legal action to stop it immediately. Not April 30, but now,” Bello said.
He also said that CAAP should remit the non-refunded travel tax and terminal fees to the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) which holds OFW funds in trust. An agency of DOLE, OWWA administers OFW welfare programs.
“The travel tax and fees collected from our OFWs which were not refunded to them must be remitted to the OWWA,” said Bello.
Late last month, Bello wrote Director General Jim Sydiongco of CAAP, which was copy furnished to Secretary Arthur Tugade of the Department of Transportation, General Manager Eddie V. Monreal of the Manila International Airport Authority (MIAA), and Atty. Guiller B. Asido of the Tourism Infrastructure and Enterprise Zone Authority, 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.
END/Abegail De Vega