News Briefs: Nov. 6, 2018
Return airport fees to OFWs, Bello urges Caap anew
Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III on Monday urged the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (Caap) to remit to the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (Owwa) about P500 million in terminal fees and travel tax that airlines collected from overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) over the last three years.
Bello reiterated that the fees should not have been collected in the first place, since OFWs were exempted from paying them.
“I am wondering why … they continue to collect. In fact, a year ago, I already sent [the Caap] a letter that they should not collect,” he said.
All overseas-bound Filipino workers pay a terminal fee of P550 and a travel tax of P1,620 at the country’s international airports.
But under the Migrant Workers Act, OFWs are exempted from paying the fees provided that they have a working visa. Bello said the Owwa would disburse the collected fees to OFWs. —Jovic Yee
Damaged frigate undergoes combat systems upgrade
The Philippine Navy frigate BRP Gregorio del Pilar, which ran aground in the West Philippine Sea on Aug. 29 and suffered damage to its hull and propeller, is undergoing a combat systems upgrade while being repaired in Subic Bay.
The frigate is one of three former US Coast Guard Hamilton-class cutters acquired in 2011 under the US Excess Defense Articles and the Foreign Assistance Act.
According to Navy spokesperson Cmdr. Jonathan Zata, the Del Pilar would have a systems upgrade while in drydock.
The frigate was extricated from her grounding at Hasa-Hasa (Half-Moon) Shoal on Sept. 3 and towed to Subic Bay.
Zata said the frigate’s damaged propeller and other mechanical parts had been shipped to the United States for repairs. —Jeannette I. Andrade
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