Bishops seek accounting of OFW terminal fees

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    BALANGA CITY — The Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines’ Episcopal Commission on Migrants and Itinerant People (CBCP-ECMI) on Friday asked for a full accounting of the P550 airport terminal fee collected from each departing overseas Filipino workers.

    “How much have been refunded and where and how much are not yet returned to the OFWs? Where are the money?” asked Bishop Ruperto Santos of the Diocese of Balanga and CBCP-ECMI chairman.

    He reminded government officials that the fees came from the blood, tears and sweat of Filipinos working in foreign countries.

    “The money should be utilized and spent for the well-being of OFWs. The money belongs to them and no one else,” the Bataan prelate said.

    Santos made the call with the termination of the collection of P550-terminal fee from OFWs on April 30 this year.

    The Manila International Airport Authority issued Memorandum No. 8, series of 2014, that integrated the International Passenger Service Charge or terminal fees into all airline tickets “to address the congestion in all NAIA terminals with the increasing number of passengers.”

    As granted by law, OFWs are, however, exempted.

    “Make no mistake that OFWs are exempted from paying the fee. We in CBCP- ECMI have said that memorandum No. 8 of MIAA was just a burden and hardship to our OFWs. It does not help them,” the bishop said.

    He said that it showed the indifference and being insensitive of the previous government officials. “We are grateful and appreciate the present MIAA administration that ceased charging OFWs,” Santos said.

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