A “simple gift” from President Rodrigo Duterte is how transportation and airport officials refer to the terminal fee exemption afforded to Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs).
The exemption was made official through a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) signed today between the Department of Transportation – Manila International Airport Authority (MIAA) and the 40 airline companies operating at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA).
Under the MOA, starting April 30, 2017, the International Passenger Service charge (IPSC) or the terminal fee amounting to PHP550 shall be waived for OFWs, pilgrims, Philippine Sports Commission (PSC) delegates, and others authorized by law and the Office of the President to travel outside the Philippines. Exemption shall be honored upon face to face purchase of tickets. By the end of July 2017, the exemption will also apply to online purchases. This means migrant workers no longer need to queue for refund when departing from NAIA.
The MOA is consistent with President Duterte’s directive to give OFWs a seamless and hassle-free experience at the airport.
Transportation Secretary Art Tugade, who witnessed the signing, recalled the time he shared the good news to Duterte. He said Duterte was delighted. “Regalo ko ito sa mga OFWs pagkat mahal ko sila,” Tugade said quoting the President.
Tugade also thanked the air carriers for trusting the government. He also hailed MIAA General Manager Ed Monreal for making sure that this level of service is extended to OFWs.
“It is but fitting that we afford them utmost care and attention in very possible way we can. We hope that after revisiting the integration process earlier implemented in 2015 and instituting changes in the process of exemption, our OFWs will have a seamless airport experience,” said Monreal.
It can be recalled that the IPSC Integration Project implemented in February 2015 was met with opposition from concerned OFW groups and advocates as it required OFWs to go through a refund process.
In a bid to alleviate traffic congestion in Metro Manila, the Department of Transportation (DOTr), Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH), and the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA), met yesterday afternoon to discuss measures to enhance inter-agency coordination, especially on the conduct of road diggings, excavations, and similar works in the region.
The meeting was spearheaded by DOTr Secretary Arthur Tugade and DPWH Secretary Mark Villar in order to settle any issue arising from road works, especially on the major thoroughfares of the metropolis.
In the meeting, Usec. Romeo Momo of DPWH requested the MMDA to issue excavation clearance to DPWH districts instead of contractors to prevent delays and for them to efficiently manage road works.
“Instead of issuing permits to contractors, issue it to DPWH and we will ensure that they will abide by our guidelines,” Usec. Momo said.
In order to prevent long delays on project start date, DPWH likewise suggested for the MMDA to allow them to apply for an excavation clearance once a project is advertised instead of waiting until the project has been awarded to a certain contractor.
For her part, MMDA Traffic Discipline Office Director Neomie Recio reminded DPWH to ensure that a Traffic Management Plan be in place before a road work project starts in order to guarantee its minimal effect to traffic flow.
“The contractors should submit their traffic management plan to you so you can review it before passing to us. Once it is submitted to MMDA, we will determine if it is acceptable and recommend necessary adjustments or revisions if needed,” Recio said. “Also, remind these contractors that excavation in major roads are only to be done between 10pm and 5am,” she added.
To sustain the level of coordination and review of existing guidelines, regular inter-agency meetings shall be conducted by the said agencies every 2nd Tuesday of each month. Further, erring contractors shall be determined during such meetings for the imposition of appropriate sanctions.
Transportation Secretary Art Tugade flew to Surigao last Saturday, February 11 to personally lead the assessment of the Surigao airport and other transport facilities, following the magnitude 6.7 earthquake that shook the city Friday night.
Tugade, along with other airport officials, arrived in Surigao just hours after a notice to airmen (NOTAM) was issued closing the airport due to extensive damage on its runway. The closure was directed to give way to repair and rehabilitation of the facility. The tower, airport terminal, and facilities were minimally damaged and no staff was injured.
The Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP) sent engineers to the airport to conduct a detailed assessment and fast track the repairs.
Local airlines such as PAL, PAL Express, and Cebu Pacific Express expressed all-out support to government relief operations in Surigao.
Meanwhile, the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) also dispatched a search and rescue vessel from Cebu to deliver clean drinking water to affected areas in Surigao. Around 150 PCG personnel were also mobilized to augment government operations in Surigao.
PCG assets in Surigao include 1 vessel, 5 aluminum boats, 3 trucks, 1 Innova and 33 personnel who are helping repack at the Surigao City Hall.
Surigao del Norte Gov. Sol Matugas, in her statement to the Cabinet, expressed her appreciation for the quick response of DOTr Sec. Tugade to aid the earthquake-struck province.
The Department of Transportation through the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP) urged airlines to prepare for the scheduled corrective maintenance of the Tagaytay radar on March, which is expected to result in flight reductions during that period.
Beginning 6:00AM of March 6 to 6:00AM of March 11, the Tagaytay radar will be shut down for the needed maintenance, leaving the country with only two operational radars --- Laoag and Mt. Majic in Cebu. For passenger safety, flights will be reduced from 40 to 32 flights per hour, while general aviation will be reduced by 50%.
CAAP stressed that flight reductions were necessary for better air traffic management, and assures the public that there is nothing to worry about, as the Ninoy Aquino International Airport also has a terminal radar that can guide airmen.
The maintenance date was the result of CAAP’s close coordination with airline companies, who also chose the dates considering their lean schedules. During the third coordination meeting held earlier this morning, CAAP instructed the airlines to announce flight adjustments within the week so as not to provide much hassle to travelers. Airlines are said to announce their flight adjustment schedules on Friday. Passengers who have booked flights on dates covered by maintenance activities are advised to coordinate with their respective airlines.
The Tagaytay corrective maintenance covers the overhauling of antenna and replacement of its drive motor and rotary joint. Maintenance of radars are supposed to take place at least every five years, but the Tagaytay radar has not undergone maintenance since its installation in 2009.
Ready for upgrade
Apart from scheduled maintenance, the Tagaytay radar is also being prepared to be integrated into the satellite-based Communications, Navigation, Surveillance / Air Traffic Management (CNS/ATM) system. This technology allows aircraft transponders to receive satellite signals and use transponder transmissions to determine precise locations of aircrafts.
The CNS/ATM project includes building an air traffic management center and 10 radar facilities that will cover the entire Philippine airspace. It is now 92% complete and will be turned over in June. According to CAAP, it will be fully operational by December.
The CNS/ATM, which aims for an uninterrupted and seamless air traffic flow within the country and other regions, is the same technology being used in Australia, Taiwan, and other European states.
In a bid to decongest road traffic and facilitate an efficient movement of goods, the Department of Transportation (DOTr) has lined up building a barge terminal among its priorities.
The development of the Cavite Gateway Terminal (CGT), the first of its kind in the Philippines, is consistent with government initiatives to utilize nautical highways more in order to decongest the roads. In the case of barges, one trip is equivalent to an estimated one-kilometer long of truck traffic.
The CGT is being developed in partnership with International Container Terminal Services Inc. (ICTSI), a private port management company. It will be located within a six-hectare property in Tanza, Cavite, an ideal site because of the province’s high economic density. The Cavite Export Processing Zone (CEPZ) alone houses over 400 actively operating companies, in addition to the multiple areas of planned development within the province.
The CGT will also have a level of integration with other major Luzon port facilities for more cost-effective and time-bound access to the Cavite market for both inbound and outbound cargo.
Phase 1 of the project is designed to support a total output of 115,000 TEUs per year, which is equal to approximately 140,000 fewer truck trips plying city roads annually. Harbor Star, the barge operator for the CGT, will deploy 150 TEU barges. TEU or twenty-foot equivalent units is used to measure container ship capacity.
Succeeding phases of CGT will support a substantial increase in capacity and will be built to account for projected annual volume increases in the Cavite market.
Apart from decongesting roads, barge service is also seen to benefit traders and exporters as they are cheaper than trucking rates. Using barges instead of trucks also lowers fuel consumption, effectively reducing the city’s carbon footprint.