BALANGA CITY, Bataan – Bishop Ruperto Santos of the Diocese of Balanga on Friday announced that the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) voiced strong opposition to the inclusion of the terminal fee to the airline ticket, asking President Benigno Aquino to exercise his power of veto. The CBCP made the official statement through the Episcopal Commission for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant People that Bishop Santos chairs.
The prelate said the Commission strongly expressed opposition to the recently issued memorandum circular of the Manila International Airport Authority (MIAA) notifying all travel and
airline establishments about the implementation of the International Passenger Service Charge
(IPSC) or terminal fee integration effective February 1, 2015.
“It condemns MIAA’s utter disregard for the still pending court and congressional and senate
hearings seeking to clarify the issue,” Santos said. He said that MIAA and the Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) should not implement the IPSC while there are still unresolved issues before RTC Branch 109 in Pasay City and congress and senate inquiries are yet to take place on February 9.
“Their desire to eliminate a single queue at our international airports directly tramples and
betrays the interest of our country’s unsung heroes. They will be disadvantaged and burdened
by this insensitive move,” the prelate said. Santos considered the move as heartless, disgraceful, and a gesture of blatant disrespect to the rights of OFWs.
“On behalf of the Overseas Filipino Workers and their families, we humbly plead and appeal to
President Aquino to exercise his power of veto so that the implementation of the memorandum be reconsidered until all the gaps and loopholes are ironed-out and the interest of all those who will be affected are fostered and honored,” the Bishop said.
Santos said the order is a deliberate and conscious act to violate the grant of exemption to
OFWs from paying airport terminal fees as enshrined in the Migrant Workers’ Act of 1995 and
Republic Act No. 10022. The memo states that air tickets bought locally, abroad and online, will include the terminal fee by February 1, 2015. “But MIAA itself admits that OFWs who will buy their tickets online or overseas will not be able to claim exemptions since airline companies and travel agencies with offices outside the Philippines do not recognize and cannot be compelled to recognize the exemptions granted by our laws,” the Bataan bishop said.
He said that during the visit of Pope Francis, among the many vulnerable sectors in our society,
the OFWs and their families were given special preference, honoring them for their great
contribution to the country and the world. “They are considered as living heroes. Should we burden them with self-serving and insensitive memos? Hwag na nating dagdagan pa ang kanilang paghihirap,” Santos said.