BALANGA City, Bataan, Feb. 4, 2015—Balanga Bishop Ruperto C. Santos has pointed out that the compulsory Php 550 terminal fee proposed by the Manila International Airport Authority (MIAA)’s Memorandum Circular No. 8 will be an added burden, especially to Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs).

Manila International Airport Authority (MIAA)’s Memorandum Circular No. 8 proposes that Php 500 be integrated into all ticket prices as payment for a compulsory terminal fee. (Photo: CBCPNews)

The prelate, who also chairs the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP)’s Episcopal Commission on Migrants and Itinerant People, (ECMI), shares the sentiments of the OFW sector, whom grateful Filipinos look up to as “modern-day heroes,” stressing this memo goes against the Migrant Workers Act of 1995 and Section 35 of the Republic Act (R.A.) 10022 which exempt them from paying airport terminal fees.

“This is a clear violation of the Migrant Workers Act of 1995, as well as of R.A. 10022. We owe it to our hardworking OFWs to make the sacrifice they make for our country more bearable. They have done so much for us. Let’s not overburden them with terminal fees,” Santos shared in an interview Tuesday over Church-run Radyo Veritas.

MIAA issued in Sept. 2014 the circular, which seeks to integrate the International Passenger Service Charge (IPSC), commonly known as airport terminal fee amounting to Php 550, into the cost of plane tickets, to address the congestion in all Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) terminals by trimming down the processing time of passengers.

Rather than pass on to ordinary citizens its responsibility, the Balanga bishop has stressed MIAA should first consider overhauling the airport’s system and policies in order to serve passengers better.

Santos also lambasted the seeming rush with which MIAA officials are allegedly trying to implement the terminal fee despite the temporary restraining order (TRO) issued by the Pasay City Regional Trial Court (RTC) which found it “unenforceable” due to the lack of publication required for its implementation, and a Senate hearing scheduled on Feb. 9.

Based on data from the National Statistics Office (NSO), there are approximately 2.220 million Filipinos working abroad as of 2012, and they contribute as much as Php 165.6 billion annually to national economy through their remittances. (Raymond A. Sebastián/CBCP News)