‘#noto550’ Global Protest through Social Media by OFWs
A significant number of Overseas Filipino Workers is currently protesting the automatic integration of PhP550 terminal fee into flight tickets starting October 1, 2014, as per a memo order signed on June 24, 2014 between the Manila International Airport Authority (MIAA) and the international air carriers. OFWs are lawfully exempt from paying the terminal fee. The PhP 550 charged to OFWs is refundable but the process is tedious and tough.
The OFWs will be taking this objection to Facebook, Twitter and other social media platforms between September 15 to 16 by actively (1) using the hashtag #NOTO550, (2) using a unified profile photo, and (3) posting protest fan signs or photos, (4) signature campaign to petition the MIAA and DOTC, among others. The protest, named “Global Social Media Protest against Terminal Fee Integration” will be spearheaded by the Pinoy Expats/OFW Blog Awards, (PEBA, Inc.), an NGO active on social media that is focused on the welfare of OFWs. PEBA, Inc has members from 70 countries and territories worldwide and has 171,000 Facebook followers to date.
The organization released the unified profile photo and many OFWs are already using it in support for the protest. The OFWs assert that the integration of the terminal fee into flight tickets is against Republic Act No. 8042 or the Migrant Workers Act of 1995, section 35 which provides that OFWs are exempted from paying the travel tax and airport fee.
According to Kenji Solis, one of the volunteers of PEBA from Saudi Arabia, no consultations were made among OFWs and OFW groups before the signing of the order. The protest will be a global plea to defer, if not to stop the implementation of the order pending the discussion for a fair solution that will not hurt the OFWs. PEBA believes that the refund process is a burden to OFWs as an additional cue to the already many counters that they line up to at the airport before leaving the country. Also, the documentation requirement for the refund is tough, leading to the chance of not having it refunded by many OFWs at all. PEBA thinks that this (1) financially impairs the OFWs especially the low-income earning group (domestic helpers, laborers, janitors, food servers), (2) and that the un-refunded money will not necessarily benefit back the OFWs and will possibly fall prey to corruption.
PEBA, Inc, along with other social media sites, including Blas Ople Center, Philippine Migrant Workers Right, Filipino Migrant Worker’s Group, the OFW Family party list and the Global OFW Voices, calls for a comprehensive discussion with MIAA, the Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) and other government agencies to arrive at an acceptable method to exempt the OFWs right at the flight ticket ‘s point of purchase especially purchases made online and those bought outside the Philippines. PEBA, Inc’s membership has presence in Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Qatar, Kuwait, Hongkong, Singapore, Malaysia, Taiwan, Libya, Oman, Lebanon, Jordan, United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, USA, South Africa, Thailand, Italy, France, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, China, and other countries and territories.
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©2014 Pinoy Expats/OFW Blog Awards