Departing OFWs exempted from $3.50 airport security fee

Departing OFWs exempted from $3.50 airport security fee
By: Jonathan M. Hicap, The Manila Times: 10/8/2006

Overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) will be exempted from paying the new $3.50 (P175) security fee the Manila International Airport Authority (MIAA) will be charging departing passengers beginning next month.

Robert Uy, MIAA head executive assistant, said a legal opinion from the Office of the Government Corporate Counsel (OGCC) said the security fee is part of the airport fees under the Migrant Workers and Overseas Filipino Act, a law which exempts OFWs from paying travel tax and other fees.

The exemption of OFWs would cost MIAA P200 million annually, but Uy said the money being sent by migrant workers to the country is more than enough reason to let them go abroad without paying additional fees.

The security fee will be imposed by MIAA to fund the airport’s P1.25-billion security program. MIAA originally proposed a $5 fee, but lowered it to $3.50 after consulting with airlines. The security fee is on top of the P550 terminal fee being paid by outbound international passengers.

Former senator Ernesto Herrera, secretary-general of the Trade Union Congress of the Philippines (TUCP), earlier said OFWs are exempted from paying the fee. He said the additional fee violates the migrant law.

Herrera said as long as migrant workers could present their overseas employment certificate at the airport, they are exempted.

The MIAA is working to incorporate the new fee to tickets issued by airlines. MIAA General Manager Alfonso Cusi said the security fee is needed to enhance security measures at the airport. This includes the purchase of high-tech scanning equipment and the closed-circuit cameras. He said the cost of security equipment had become prohibitive especially after the September 11, 2001, attacks in the United States.

In the first half of the year, 564,920 OFWs went abroad, according to the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration.


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