Court: Merging of terminal fee and airfare 'unenforceable'
MANILA, Philippines (UPDATE) – A Pasay City court found "unenforceable" a government memorandum that would have integrated airport terminal fees into airfares of overseas-bound passengers departing from the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA).
On Wednesday, November 19, the Pasay City Regional Trial Court (RTC) resolved that the disputed memorandum circular of the Manila International Airport Authority (MIAA) "lacks the publication required" for its implementation.
The court resolution comes amid growing support to the #NoTo550 coalition, organized in protest of the terminal fee integration. (READ: OFW groups protest airlines' earnings from terminal fees)
Senator Aquilino "Koko" Pimentel III also filed a Senate resolution last November 10, calling for a probe in aid of legislation into the matter.
Presiding Judge Tingaraan Guiling said MIAA Memorandum Circular No 8 series 2014 "needs publication as mandated by law."
However, he said there is "no proof of publication in the Official Gazette nor in any newspaper of general circulation."
During the hearing on Monday, November 17, Judge Guiling quizzed lawyer Kristan Carlos Cristobal from the Office of the Solicitor-General on whether such evidence exists. Cristobal was unsure.
Citing a Supreme Court (SC) ruling, the judge said Article 2 of the Civil Code and Executive Order 292 mandate such a memorandum circular be published before "proper legal implementation."
"Bereft and absence (sic) of any publication, the said Memorandum Circular No 8 is unenforceable," the resolution read.
Victory for OFWs' plight
Groups advocating the rights of overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) considered the court resolution a "huge victory" despite it being based on a mere technicality.
OFW Family Representative Roy Señeres, who led the petitioners before the Pasay court, thanked the court for "coming to the rescue" of the migrant workers' sector.
The petitioners had argued that the merging of terminal fees in airfares would unduly target those exempted by law from paying terminal fees, foremost of whom are the OFWs.
The MIAA, however, had insisted these exempted sectors can still refund their fees.
Barring queueing time, the MIAA estimated the reimbursement to take only a minute long based on its own simulation.
Petitioners expressed doubts over the system and said the exemption is futile if they are made to pay in the first place. – Rappler.com