MANILA — Labor and Employment Secretary Rosalinda Dimapilis-Baldoz reiterated on Saturday the stand of the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) that Overseas Filipino Workers are exempted by law from travel tax, documentary stamp, and airport fee.
“It is our position that OFWs are continuously and automatically exempted from paying the travel tax, or the International Passenger Service Charge (IPC) even for tickets purchased abroad or online. This is pursuant to R.A. 8042, as amended by R.A., 10022,” said Baldoz as the issue concerning the integration of the IPSC into the airline ticket at point of sale continues to be an item of public discussion.
“The law mandates the exemption of migrant workers from the payment of travel tax, documentary stamp, and airport fee, upon proper showing of proof of entitlement which is the overseas employment certificate (OEC) issued by the POEA,” Baldoz said.
She said the DOLE has communicated this position to concerned authorities, including Secretary Joseph Emilio A. Abaya of the Department of Transportation and Communications and to the Senate of the Philippines.
“We have stated this position in countless meetings called by the DOLE through the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration involving representatives of civil society groups, recruitment agencies, and other government agencies, such as the Manila International Airport Authority (MIAA) and the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration,” she said.
The MIAA has issued an “Implementing Guidelines for the Integration of International Passenger Service Charge into the Airline Ticket Point of Sale” through Memorandum Circular No. 08 Series of 2014 whose effectivity has been moved several times, the latest was on Jan. 7, 2015. The issue has gone to the courts.
Baldoz said that under the guidelines, OFWs will continue to be exempted from paying the IPSC or terminal fee of Php 550 and this fee will not be automatically collected from airline tickets purchased within the Philippines. However, the IPSC or terminal fee will be collected by default from airline tickets purchased online and outside the country, subject to refund to OFWs upon presentation of their OECs at designated counters or at the MIAA office.
But civil society groups, airlines, recruitment agencies, and OFWs themselves are opposed to the scheme.
Baldoz said that as to the concern raised by airlines on the anticipated difficulty of foreign travel agents and airline offices in determining the authenticity of the OECs and the manner of of verification of airline tickets purchased online, she said the DOLE has already expressed its willingness to share with the MIAA the POEA’s database of OFWs for purposes of verification.
“The airlines and the MIAA, however, should prepare their respective computer application systems to enable this proposed data-sharing,” she said.
Baldoz said that while the DOLE understands the noble intention of the IPSC integration and its expected benefits to all airline passengers, there is a need to ensure all necessary preparation of system infrastructure to ensure the continued automatic exemption of OFWs from the payment of the terminal fee and all other fees provided for under the law.
“The welfare concerns of a significant sector of Philippine society that has been a strong development partner of the country—our OFWs—should also be given utmost consideration,” Baldoz said.