MANILASenator Francis Escudero has urged the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) and the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) to provide assistance to Filipino migrant workers who were affected by the Ninoy Aquino International Airport runway mishap.
"I call on the DFA and OWWA to assist OFWs affected by these flight delays. Assistance with airline companies in rebooking and with their employers to help explain the delay and for it not to be taken against them," Escudero said in a news release issued Monday.
Hundreds of domestic and international flights were cancelled when a Xiamen Air passenger aircraft skidded off a runway of NAIA on Thursday evening due to heavy rains.
More than 36 hours after the incident, the airport was reopened, but thousands of passengers remained stranded and were inconvenienced due to flight disruptions.
Escudero said it is within the rights of the passengers to be compensated for the trouble the mishap has caused, particularly to the OFWs who now fear of losing their jobs for not being able to return to their countries of employment on time.
Based on the Air Passenger Bill of Rights, "when a flight is cancelled because of force majeure, safety/security reasons, a passenger shall have the right to be reimbursed for the full value of the fare."
"Government must also find a way to indemnify passengers for damages caused by these inordinate delays especially in cases of non-refundable tickets, missed connection flights and additional billeting expenses," Escudero said.
In an interview, OWWA Administrator Hans Leo Cacdac said they are assisting OFWs whose flights were still delayed and that they are already coordinating with the Philippine Airlines. He said they are giving priority to those whose visas were about to expire.
Escudero reiterated that apart from helping them rebook and refund their tickets, the DFA and OWWA must ensure that OFWs were given the support they need in explaining the incident, which is completely out of their hands, to their employers.
Meanwhile, the DFA said the embassies and consulates abroad were instructed to provide certificates to be presented to the OFW's employers, explaining the cause of the incident.
"The Department is issuing instructions to our embassies and consulates for them to assist our stranded kababayans by issuing to them the necessary certification that could be presented to foreign employers to explain the delay in their arrival in their host countries," DFA Assistant Secretary and Spokesperson Elmer Cato said in a text message. (With report from Joyce Rocamora/PNA)
Source: Philippine News Agency