By Benjamin Lim Vergara
THE unclaimed airport terminal fees of overseas Filipino workers will be remain in a trust fund and refunded to its owners once claimed.
Thus pledged Manila International Airport (MIAA) General Manager Ed Monreal on Wednesday after Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello said anew that the money should be refunded to their rightful owners.
“The amount is kept by MIAA in a trust account and is distinct and separate from the agency’s corporate funds. The money does not belong to MIAA. It will remain in the trust account until fully refunded to the passengers who own them,” Monreal said, stressing that OFWs can claim it anytime.
He added that domestic terminal fees remitted to the MIAA now totals PhP172,333,700. This amount came from Cebu Pacific Air/CebGo and covers unused tickets while a total of PhP105,320,679 was remitted to the MIAA by 18 international carriers. This amount pertains to international terminal fees left unrefunded by OFW and non-OFW passengers.
The MIAA said the total amount remitted by air carriers amounts to PhP277,654,379 as of November 6.
“This is contrary to the PhP500-million which came out in news reports earlier this week,” Monreal clarified.
Meanwhile, the MIAA said an OFW need only to present the pertinent documents to make a claim.
“OFWs only need to present their copy of the Overseas Employment Certificate (OEC) and ticket among others, to refund,” the MIAA explained.
On the other hand, the MIAA added, non-OFW passengers with unused airline tickets may refund by showing their ticket or proof of purchase and ownership or certification from the airline that they were not able to take their flight.
As this developed, Monreal said Department of Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade has given the order to transfer the funds to the appropriate agency if directed by the authority vested with the mandate to decide on the matter.
On Tuesday, the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP) clarified a statement regarding the call of the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) to refund the PhP500 million terminal fees and travel taxes paid by OFWs departing from different international airports in the country.
CAAP said it collects terminal fees only on its seven international airports namely Puerto Princesa, Davao, Gensan, Zamboanga, Iloilo, Kalibo and Laoag, which are seldom use by OFWs in leaving for their destination abroad.
“This is complicated further because it is the airlines the collect terminal fees.”
The country’s aviation regulator said that the CAAP is an attached agency of the DOTr, just like separated airport authorities such as the NAIA, Clark, Mactan Cebu and Lalo (Cesa). These authorities have their own refund procedures as well.
Travel taxes are normally included in the ticket fare and are being collected by Tieza, under the Department of Tourism.
Bello recently asked the CAAP anew to refund PhP550 million in terminal fees collected from OFWs.
Bello noted that OFWs are also exempted from paying travel tax.
He said DOLE has sent another letter to the CAAP reiterating its request for the regulator to stop collecting terminal fees from OFWs and to return the collected fees to the OWWA.