Where and How to Process the P550 Refund if Employers Pay for OFW Plane Tickets?

Various points have been exchanged between OFW groups and the MIAA administration regarding the integration of the P550 terminal fee into plane tickets. So, to formally explain their side in the issue, MIAA sent the press released they called “Figures will Tell”.

Based on data released by MIAA, the total number of departing passengers who will not line up to pay terminal fee is 5,621,540M [we’re not quite sure what the “M” here stands for, unless they just wanted to emphasize that the figure hits the million mark].

Out of these 5.6 million plus people, around 197,569 will buy their tickets online or purchase these abroad.

According to MIAA:

The 197,569 passengers expected to buy their tickets online or abroad may not even have to line up because according to the POEA, in most cases, the OFW does not pay for the airfare as it is a condition in the employment contract that tickets should be for the account of the foreign employers. Thus, the terminal fee which has been incorporated in the airfare can only be refunded by the foreign employer.

The refund process has no expiration period. It can be done prior to departure at the refund counters in the Terminals or upon return to the Philippines or through a representative to be processed at the MIAA Administration Building, subject to presentation of OEC or exemption certificate.

So, the premise here is that if the employer buys the tickets, then it is not the OFW who is paying for the terminal fee. Technically, the OFW should not care anymore about the P550 in this case, right? Wrong.

1) There is this possibility that the OFW will still be charged with P550 by the employer or the agency, deductible from his salary. So, does that mean he has to process the refund himself? But MIAA specifically said “the terminal fee which has been incorporated in the airfare can only be refunded by the foreign employer”!

2) If the employer paid, then he has to process the refund. This employer is in another country, for sure. Does that mean he has to go to the Philippines to process the refund? Or will there be specific places where the employer can do that? Perhaps at the embassy? Or at that country’s airport? Or where?

3) If the employer chooses to just let go of the issue, rather than be bothered by the red tape surrounding the P550, who can benefit then? Where will this extra money go?

4) In most cases, the employers would not bother with getting a refund anymore. How many employers would simply let the issue go, anyway?

5) Why would the employer need to present the employee’s OEC when he already knows this person is an OFW because this person is under his employ?

6) What are the requirements for the employer to process the refund? Does he need to prove that he bought the tickets for the OFW? What if the OFW paid for the terminal fee? How sure will it be that the refunded amount will go to the OFW?

Now, what if the employer did not pay for the tickets – because this is not part of their employment arrangement with the OFW? But the MIAA statement said only employers are allowed to get the refund? So, that means the OFW paid for the terminal he is not supposed to pay, but could not have it refunded because his employer is the only one allowed to process the refund. Now, do you think the employer [who, by the way needs to go to the PH] will process that on his behalf?

How are they going to determine who really paid the terminal fees and who really should get the refund?