We are not estranged from our unsung heroes’ woes—the loneliness that creeps in when they work away from family, the deprivation they have to go through to save up, and the hardship that comes in having unpleasant employers among many other things.
Now when you think their homecomings should at least be made easy, they have to endure long lines upon arriving at the airport just to get a terminal fee refund. In a post that has been going around Facebook, user Venecio Vano Legaspi expressed his sentiments:
“ATM (at the moment)... Isang napaka-lungkot na katotohanan... May batas po na tayong mga OFWs ay exempted sa pagbabayad ng Terminal Fee, subalit ito ay hindi binigyang halaga ng gobyerno. Kasama po ako sa mga pumila para humingi ng refund na P550... sa haba ng pila, mayroon pong hindi nalang nila kinuha ang refund nila at baka mahuli sila sa eroplanong sasakyan pabalik sa kanilang destinasyon.”
The Republic Act 10022 or the Amended Migrant Workers and Overseas Filipinos Act of 1995 exempts Overseas Filipino Workers (OFW) from paying airport fees, travel taxes, and documentary stamps. But even with the consensus of Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE), the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA), Manila International Airport Authority (MIAA), and the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA), OFWs still face a great deal of inconvenience.
OFWs still need to pay the terminal fee of P550 on initial bookings with the assurance that they can get a refund—of course not without having to wait long minutes or even hours in line; not without stressing about missing their connecting flights. Legaspi’s frustrations are only echoed when you talk to more OFWs queued at the refund counters.
Do you think this is a violation of the law? What can you suggest to help alleviate our OFWs’ concerns? Let us know in the comments below!
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Photographs by Venecio Vano Legaspi