Thursday, January 19, 2012

New Rules for Offloading


Discrimination alive and Well

Filipinos leaving the Philippines will get a secondary inspection if they fall under the following categories: 
a. Travelers  without financial capacity to travel escorted/accompanied by a foreigner not related.
b. Minor traveling alone or unaccompanied by either parent or legal guardian without the required travel clearance from the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD).
c. Repatriated irregular workers in which case, travel may not be allowed without the clearance from the IACAT. 
d. Partners and spouses of foreign nationals intending to depart to meet and/or marry his/her fiancé without the CFO Guidance and Counseling Certificate.
e. Passengers traveling to countries with existing deployment bans, alert levels and travel advisories and those in possession of a visa to the said countries.
f. For passengers intending to depart for the second or more times who stayed abroad for more than one (1) year during its previous departure as a tourist/temporary visitor.
Under category A, why should you be subjected to abuse just because you are poor? Can you imagine if Canada did that to it’s citizens? Imagine an Airport screener telling you’ “Sorry, you cannot leave Canada. You look like a poor person. We do not believe you can afford to travel and you are only going to look for work outside Canada.” 
Category C is also baffling. This is the reason why OFW's do not want to be repatriated from war zones. The smart ones stay. They know that if they go back to the Philippines, they cannot get out again without paying fees, or bribes to various government agencies, and officials.  Our OFW's do not need protection from other countries. Sometimes, you feel that they need protection from their own government. 
In category D, why in heavens name does an adult need guidance or counselling to marry another adult. Whether that person is foreigner or not is irrelevant. 
In category E, if you have a visa to a banned country and you still want to travel there, that is not the business of the Philippine government. What you do when you get there is your business and the government of that country.  
Then, there is category F. With Canada’s supervisas, tourists can stay a maximum of 2 years every time for ten years.  What happens then?  
It’s time that the Philippines stop treating outgoing Filipinos as potential workers that they can milk with fees for POEA to OWWA to whatever agency they can come up with? And the Philippine government is claiming that they are doing these measures to comply with anti-human smuggling rules by the United States. 
Actually, we are doing the job that the United States is supposed to be doing. And our government is creating more hardship for our fellow kababayans who just want to get a better life outside the country so they can provide for their loved ones who will be left behind.
Let them leave.


As for these new rules for offloading, these are not new rules. They are the same rules. In fact, the only new rule should have been "no offloading at all." 


If Filipinos have a plane ticket out, what right does the government have to stop them? It is the job of other countries whether to let them in or not. The Philippines is still a democratic country. Or did it change without the people knowing it? 

MANILA, Philippines - The newly-approved offloading guidelines for international-bound passengers hopes to strengthen the government’s campaign against human trafficking.
“The offloading policy has contributed to our gains in the drive against trafficking, and as a result, our country was elevated to Tier 2 in the US State Department’s Trafficking index. This year, we hope to be elevated to Tier 1,” Vice President Jejomar Binay said in a statement.
Binay said the Inter-Agency Council Against Trafficking (IACAT) had directed a technical working group to come up with the guidelines to ensure transparency and consistency in the implementation of the offloading policy and remove any room for the exercise of personal discretion.
“We believe the new guidelines are more comprehensive since the IACAT already has a wider membership, which include non-government organizations. We made a point to incorporate all their inputs,” Binay said.
Binay said IACAT will remain open to the sentiments of travelers, especially overseas Filipino workers (OFWs).
“If there are still complaints stemming from an oversight in the guidelines, we will act and improve on them,” said Binay, who is also IACAT’s chairman emeritus.
The new guidelines outline the requirements for the assessment of international-bound passengers based on four categories, namely: tourists; Overseas Filipino Workers; immigrants and permanent residents; and special classes of passengers.
For tourists, the Bureau of Immigration (BI) is authorized to conduct a secondary inspection after the primary inspection “for the purpose of protecting vulnerable victims of human trafficking and illegal recruitment and other related offenses, through the assessment of the following circumstances”: age; educational attainment; and financial capability to travel.
Any passenger who will be subjected to secondary inspection will be required to accomplish the BI Border Control Questionnaire.
Travelers will automatically be subjected to secondary inspection if they fall under the following categories:
a. Travelers without financial capacity to travel escorted/accompanied by a foreigner not related.
b. Minor traveling alone or unaccompanied by either parent or legal guardian without the required travel clearance from the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD).
c. Repatriated irregular workers in which case, travel may not be allowed without the clearance from the IACAT. 
d. Partners and spouses of foreign nationals intending to depart to meet and/or marry his/her fiancé without the CFO Guidance and Counseling Certificate.
e. Passengers traveling to countries with existing deployment bans, alert levels and travel advisories and those in possession of a visa to the said countries.
f. For passengers intending to depart for the second or more times who stayed abroad for more than one (1) year during its previous departure as a tourist/temporary visitor.
Binay explained the provision on secondary inspection was inserted to prevent tourist workers who are the more probable victims of illegal recruitment and trafficking from leaving the country.
In 2011, a total of 512 international-bound passengers were offloaded. Of the total, 30 were classified as minors, 316 as tourist workers and 175 as OFWs with irregularities in their documents.

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