The Inter-Agency Council Against Trafficking (IACAT) expressed its full support to the Bureau of Immigration (BI) after online articles emerged implying the act of its personnel seeking additional documents as a form of harassment against outbound passengers.
Darlene Pajarito, Executive Director of IACAT, belied the allegations of a new scam circulating in social media putting immigration officials on blast, accusing them of requiring outbound passengers other documents to prove their purpose of travel.
The claim against BI officials spawned from an online article citing a message from an undisclosed source, warning the public of a new modus operandi in the airports following the laglag bala conundrum.
The process of inspection conducted by the BI is based on Department of Justice’s Memorandum Circular No. 36 Series of 2015 entitled “Revised Guidelines on Departure Formalities for International-Bound Passengers.”
“These guidelines are based on existing laws that seek to protect Filipinos from possible abuse overseas, thus the BI is mandated to take into consideration the totality of circumstances during inspection,” Pajarito said.
The said guidelines are put in place to temper the rise of Filipinos going overseas using tourist visas with the intention of working at their country of destination. Also included in the Guidelines are the documents needed for Tourist Passengers, Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs), Passengers with Immigrant or Permanent Resident Visa, and other categories of travel purposes such as on-the-job trainees, au pairs and exchange visitor program participants.
There have been reports from the BI that there are some Filipinos that, with the hope of finding paid work abroad, circumvent the established processes imposed by the law to protect OFWs. Mutilated passports, counterfeit, fraudulent, falsified, simulated or tampered travel documents such as Overseas Employment Contracts (OEC) are some of the instances encountered in the airports that manifest a well-founded certainty of human trafficking or illegal recruitment.
“Bypassing the steps required by the government increases the possibility for these individuals of being abused, exploited and trafficked in a foreign country,” Pajarito said.