Bello wants unrefunded OFW terminal fees returned to OWWA

Don Kevin Hapal
Bello wants unrefunded OFW terminal fees returned to OWWA
The labor department says most OFWs don't get their refunds because of lack of time and awareness

MANILA, Philippines – Labor Secretary Silvestre H. Bello III asked the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP) to return to the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) all unrefunded travel tax and terminal fees that have been collected from overseas Filipino workers (OFWs).

According to section 35 of RA 8042, otherwise known as the Migrant Workers and Overseas Filipino Act, OFWs should be exempted from the “payment of travel tax and airport fee upon proper showing of the Overseas Employment Certificate (OEC) issued by the POEA.”

But according to the letter sent on February 21 by the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) to CAAP, these fees are being incorporated into the cost of airline tickets. OFWs have to line up at refund counters at airports to be reimbursed. 

The sector and their advocates had repeatedly complained about the process, which was meant to improve overall passenger convenience at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport. 

The labor department said that most OFWs don’t get their refunds “because of lack of awareness about this privilege or lack of material time to process their claim for refund at the airport.”

Read the full letter here:

  DOLE'S LETTER TO CAAP by Rappler Philippines on Scribd

Bello requested for all unrefunded fees to be remitted to OWWA, an attached agency of DOLE mandated to serve OFWs. The CAAP was also asked to cease and desist from collecting travel tax and fees from OFWs and to stop airlines from incorporating them into their ticket costs.

Likewise, Bello ordered OWWA administrator Hans Leo Cacdac and Philippine Overseas Employment Agency (POEA) OIC-Administrator Dominador Say to coordinate with CAAP in creating a new mechanism that will automatically exempt OFWs from these payments.

On November 29, 2016, Manila International Airport Authority General Manager Ed Monreal said that airlines have “agreed in principle” on a plan to automatically exempt all OFWs from terminal fees which will be implemented by March 2017. This is to give the airlines time to update their programs and systems, he said. –

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Don Kevin Hapal

Don Kevin Hapal is Rappler’s Head of Data and Innovation. He started at Rappler as a digital communications specialist, then went on to lead Rappler’s Balikbayan section for overseas Filipinos. He was introduced to data journalism while writing and researching about social media, disinformation, and propaganda.