Air passage is vital to international labor migration. As overseas workers, we need to fly to and from our host countries the fastest but safest way, preferably the cheapest way too. While on paper it looks like our employers are shouldering the cost of air fare, in reality, we are paying for it through the exorbitant placement fees charged to us.
For the longest time, Philippine Airlines (PAL) has monopoly over Philippine air. This stranglehold has meant higher airfare, limited seats, and not so top of the line pre-flight and in-flight services. But do we have to endure all of these because PAL is the so-called “national carrier?” Are we selling the national patrimony if we object to PAL’s monopoly? What we have done for our families and to the nation in general should put to rest any question about our love for the homeland. And as unsung heroes, don’t we deserve a better deal?
Opening up air passage means accessibility. With freedom to choose from among wider choices of airlines and airports comes lower airfare and better services. If fares are lower, our families can now afford to visit us in our jobsites. This eases the pains of separation and loneliness. Thus, the social costs of labor migration are greatly reduced.
Giving air access and opening up the Diosdado Macapagal International Airport (DMIA) and other secondary airports in the archipelago, like Laoag, Mactan, and Davao, to other airlines on a mutually advantageous basis will also redound to the benefits of the country and our compatriots. Available data already show more tourists have come in via DMIA. For Central Luzon up to Northern Luzon this means the creation of more jobs and pump-priming industries and services like agriculture, retail, manufacturing, and others. When business and industries are alive outside Metro Manila, we also reap the benefits of decongestion. Along this line, overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) need not travel all to Manila to fly out. Those in Central Luzon can use the DMIA. Those from Northern Luzon can fly out via Laoag. Those from the Visayas can use Mactan, while those from Mindanao can fly out through Davao.
Air access and opening up the skies is not the death peal for PAL. It is a wake up call for them to improve their services and pricing, and compete fairly and squarely. More than that, the benefits for us OFWs would be tremendous.
The logical step to this direction is signing and implementing a consistent and stable long term policy that will afford consumers like us greater accessibility, seats availability and better services from various airlines at lower prices. We count on President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo to lead the way in dismantling the monopoly of PAL over Philippine skies and give us consumers a better deal.
We are urging her to sign E.O. 500-B the soonest time possible.
For the Affordable Air Access Alliance- OFW Sector:
Arnel F. de Guzman
Pacific Resource Institute for Migrant Empowerment (PRIME)
Member organizations and their representatives (original document signed):
1. Mr. Jeremy Cajiuat
International Seafarers Action Center
2. Ms. Remedios Borlongan
Samahang Ugnayang Magkakapamilyang Pilipino (SUMAPI)
Central Luzon Chapter
3. Mr. Poe Gratela
Kalahi- Advocates for Overseas Filipinos Foundation
4. Ms. Geraldine Espinosa
Kaibigan ng mga OCWs, Inc.
5. Ms. Josephine Artiaga
Federation of Bicol Associations- Hong Kong
6. Atty. Milabel Cristobal Amar
U.P. Alumni Association- Hong Kong
7. Ms. Archie Dalida
Alpha Phi Omega Sorority – Hong Kong Chapter
8. Mr. Rex Varona
Asian Migrant Center
9. Ms. Elsa Quesada
Ugnayang Magkakaibigan (UGMA) – Hong Kong
10. Dr. Loida Sarmiento- Corpus
U.P. Alumni Association – Singapore
11. Ms. Cora Del Rosario
Bayanihan Center – Singapore
12. Ms. Fe Nicodemus
KAKAMMPI – Kapisanan ng mga Kamag-anak ng mgaMIgranteng Manggagawang Pilipino Inc.