The Department of Transportation (DOTr) on Monday announced that returning Overseas Filipino Workers, whose tickets were purchased abroad, will be exempted from paying terminal fee by March 2017.

During the “Kapihan sa Manila Hotel” organized by Samahang Plaridel yesterday morning, Manila International Airport Authority (MIAA) General Manager Ed Monreal said that airlines have agreed in principle to automatically relieve OFWs who purchased their return tickets to the Philippines abroad from paying terminal fee.

Currently, the P550 terminal fee of returning OFWs are integrated with their ticket fee, and is refunded through MIAA refund counters in Philippine airports, which somehow causes inconvenience to OFWs.

“Airline have already agreed in principle, so, hopefully by March 2017, mawala na ang pangamba ng ating mga OFWs sa pagbabayad ng terminal fee,” Monreal said.

Monreal explained that the exemption will be fully implemented by March 2017 to give airlines time to update their programs and systems for this policy.

The DOTr, MIAA, and airline companies is yet to enter into a memorandum of understanding to formalize the agreement.

This announcement came on the back of other accomplishments of the DOTr in the aviation sector.

Among these achievements is the enforcement of a slot management system to ensure that flight departures are on time. The system has improved the on-time performance of airlines at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport from 47 percent to 71 percent since the new administration took over.

To address traffic congestion in the airports, MIAA is also coordinating with Villamor Airbase to allow vehicles to pass through, especially along Andrews Avenue.

A two-minute waiting time is also being implemented for people welcoming and sending off passengers at the airport.

“Kaugalian ng mga Pilipino na kahit isa lang ang aalis eh napakarami nang naghahatid. Isinasaayos natin ‘yan,” Monreal said.

Capt. Jim Sydiongco, Director General of the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines, also boasted of the addition of Legzapi, Butuan, Dumaguete, and Caticlan airports to the country’s night-rated airports. Roxas airport will also be able to accommodate evening flights before Christmas.

Importance of Emergency Powers

In the same forum, DOTr officials also reiterated the need for emergency powers to push for further improvements in the transportation sector.

DOTr Assistant Secretary for Communications Cherie Mercado assured the public that the Emergency Powers sought for will expedite service delivery, and will not be abused.

“Emergency Powers was proposed to get projects moving fast. May mga safeguards tayo dyan [such as] Congress oversight, TROs/injunctions to be filed only in the Supreme Court, and its compliance with the FOI,” Mercado said.

Mercado also guaranteed that the Department, led by Sec. Arthur Tugade, continues to perform while waiting for the emergency powers to be granted.

“Si Sec. Tugade ay nagtratrabaho nang tahimik. [He] is a man of accomplishments. He’s impatient for accomplishments, but he’s also a man of transparency.”