Wednesday, December 5, 2007

TUCP Condemns Security Surcharge for OFWs

The Manila International Airport Authority (MIAA) imposed a $3.50 or P175 security surcharge for departing overseas Filipino workers (OFWs), unfortunately it only gained criticism from the Trade Union Congress of the Philippines (TUCP).

Former Senator Ernesto Herrera, TUCP secretary general said that the imposition of security surcharge to OFWs is a violation in the existing law. He cited Section 35 of the Migrants Workers and Overseas Filipinos Act, which he authored, that migrant workers shall be exempt from the payment of travel tax and airport fee upon proper showing of proof of entitlement by the POEA.

The secretary general stated following the announcement of MIAA General Manager Alfonso Cusi that the start of collecting surcharge from all departing international passengers exiting the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA), including OFWs, will start any moment this month.

From $5 security surcharge, in which MIAA originally wanted to impose, cut down to $3.50 or about P175 which will be on top of the P550 terminal from passengers boarding international flights.

Cusi said the surcharge will be used to fund the P1.25 billion updated security and emergency system at the airport, this includes additional communication equipment, surveillance cameras and monitors, metal and explosive detection devises, ID system for airport staff and security mobile vans.

However, Herrera emphasized that departing OFWs who were able to present a valid Overseas Employment Certificates (OEC) issued by the POEA prohibits MIAA from collecting any airport fees. The certificate proves their travel exit clearance at the airport and immigration.

Herrera added that today, OFWs needs to pay $100 processing fee at the POEA, another $25 for Overseas Workers Welfare Fund membership fee and P900 for OWWA medicare.

“This, apart from the fact that workers have to shell out a lot of money to pay for recruitment and documentation fees, including passport and visa charges,” he added.

If the security charge will be implemented on all foreign-bound passengers MIAA anticipate to collect some P200 million annually from OFWs alone.

“The surcharge is really an oppressive indirect tax and a totally unnecessary burden on departing OFWs,” Herrera added.

This article was first published in on October 23, 2006

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