DAVAO CITY — A tax on Filipinos traveling abroad is "wrong" and should be abolished, Sen. Aquilino "Koko" Pimentel III, who is seeking reelection, said Thursday.
Pimentel, who filed a bill to remove the duty, said taxpayers should not carry the burden of funding the development of tourism-related facilities.
Removing the levy, P1,620 for economy passengers and P2,700 for business class, will also help encourage travel, especially among the youth, he said.
"I find it ironic and I find it mistaken that we are taxing a right. Lahat ng Pilipino mayroong right to travel, tapos kung magta-travel ka magbabayad ka ng tax. That is wrong,” Pimentel told ABS-CBN News.
(I find it ironic and I find it mistaken that we are taxing a right. Every Filipino has the right to travel, but we are taxing this right. That is wrong.)
Authorities collect travel tax to enforce Presidential Decree 1183, issued by then President Ferdinand Marcos in 1977. It was originally aimed at curtailing unnecessary foreign travel.
Half of the proceeds from travel tax collections go to the Tourism Infrastructure and Enterprise Zone Authority, 40 percent to the Commission on Higher Education’s tourism-related educational programs and courses, and 10 percent to the National Commission for Culture and the Arts.
Pimentel said Section 73 of the Tourism Act of 2009 provides for alternative funding sources for programs that depend on revenue from the travel tax in case it is abolished.
Overseas Filipino workers, Filipino permanent residents abroad whose stay in the Philippines is less than 1 year, infants 2 years old and below, and several other individuals with special circumstances are exempted from paying travel tax.