GOV'T ASKS PAL TO FULLY PAY ₱ 7B IN UNPAID CHARGES
The government is calling on Lucio Tan-owned Philippine Airlines to pay in full over ₱7 billion in unpaid navigational charges and other fees incurred since the previous administrations.
Presidential spokesman Ernesto Abella said the Department of Transportation intends to take legal action against the flag carrier if the debts are not immediately settled.
Abella argued the flag carrier no longer enjoys certain navigational privileges when it was previously owned by the government.
“The matter of Philippine Airlines’ unpaid charges has existed in past administrations. At issue is that then-government PAL enjoyed privileges namely waiver of landing, takeoff, and other fees. However, such privileges no longer apply to the airline as the franchise has been sold to the private entity,” Abella said during a Palace press briefing.
“As per Department of Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade, they demanded full payment of all unpaid charges as early as August 2016,” he added.
President Duterte has threatened to shut down the PAL terminal if Tan, one of the world’s billionaires, refuses to pay his debts to the government within 10 days.
Duterte lamented that the airline has been using government terminals and runways without proper payment of fees.
“If you don’t pay, I will close it down. There will be no airport. So what?” Duterte said in Filipino during an assembly of the Philippine Constitution Association at the Manila Hotel last Tuesday night.
“I do not mind. If we sink, we sink. But I said, ‘We have to enforce the law.’ So guys, you guys, if you are put into a great discomfort, sorry. Wala akong magawa. The law is the law,” he said.
In the news conference, Abella said PAL owes Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines ₱6.965 billion as of July 30, 2017. The airline must also pay ₱322.1 million to the Manila International Airport Authority, Abella added.
He said the DoTr has sent its final demand for full payment of all unpaid charges to PAL. This was “in preparatory to the filing of appropriate legal action in order to protect the interest of government,” according to Abella.
Meanwhile, PAL said it is ready to submit a compromise agreement to settle the issue of alleged unpaid navigational charges.
In a statement, PAL said it is a manifestation of its continued support for the CAAP and that communications have been open between the parties on the matter.
PAL stressed that CAAP created an inter-agency panel of negotiators for the proposed settlement via CAAP Authority Order 149-17.
PAL formally submitted its offer to CAAP which is more than the amount covered by the CAAP supporting invoices received by PAL. To date however, PAL has not received any official response from CAAP on its offer.
“We look forward to meeting the negotiating panel and we are ready to submit a compromise agreement to settle this issue once and for all,” said PAL.