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CAAP clarifies issue on OFW terminal fee, travel tax refunds

The Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP) has made a clarification on the issue regarding Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello's call for the agency to return the terminal fees and travel taxes collected from overseas Filipino workers (OFWs).

Bello had reportedly sent letters to CAAP to reiterate his request for CAAP to refund some PHP500 million worth of terminal fees and travel taxes collected from the OFWs since 2015.

The law exempts migrant workers and OFWs registered with the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) from paying travel tax and airport fee.

In an interview with the Philippine News Agency (PNA) on Tuesday, CAAP spokesperson Eric Apolonio explained that the agency is not the only entity responsible for collecting the said fees from OFWs, since CAAP operates only seven international airports.

"Among the seven international airports that CAAP manages, it is only via the Davao International Airport, where the OFWs pass through. This airport does not charge terminal fees for OFWs," Apolonio said.

The six other airports are in General Santos, Puerto Princesa, Iloilo, Zamboanga, Kalibo, and Laoag.

These airports are being used mostly by tourists, and not by the OFWs," Apolonio noted.

He said the bulk of what Bello was requesting to be refunded is not under CAAP's jurisdiction.

"Majority of the OFWs use the airports in Manila (NAIA), Cebu, and Clark. These other airports have their own mandates," Apolonio said.

The executive added that in Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA), for instance, there is a refund center, where OFWs could present their tickets and OFW certificates to get a refund.

NAIA is being managed by the Manila International Airport Authority.

"Travel tax is normally included in the ticket, because how would the airline know if the passenger is an OFW or not when he or she books the ticket?" Apolonio said, reiterating that it is the reason why OFWs would need to refund.

Meanwhile, Apolonio said CAAP could not comment on the issue regarding travel taxes collected from the OFWs.

"The Tourism Infrastructure and Enterprise Zone Authority (TIEZA) collects travel taxes," he said.

Ma. Cristina Arayata / PNA