BI implements new guidelines for international travellers

January 23, 2012 10:43 pm 

MANILA, Jan. 23 – The Bureau of Immigration (BI) on Monday started to strictly implement its new screening rules for international travellers to ensure that passengers are not necessarily prevented from leaving the country.

The BI staff have also been instructed to extend utmost courtesy to international travellers when they pass inspection in immigration’s arrival and departure counters.

Commissioner Ricardo David Jr. cited the new guidelines on departure formalities for international travellers released last week by the Inter-Agency Council Against Trafficking (IACAT) which enjoins the BI to implement its “BI Cares” program in all ports of entry.

David said BI-Cares stands for “courtesy, accountability, responsibility, efficiency and service” and aims to address complaints by passengers who were prevented from leaving the country on suspicion of being human trafficking victims and undocumented overseas contract workers.

BI personnel in the airports and seaports were already informed about the new IACAT guidelines, which is the product of months of study and discussions by a technical working group of representatives from different government agencies, including the BI and non-government organizations.

“We will implement these guidelines to the letter so that these issues about the alleged harassment and extortion by BI employees are finally addressed,” David said.

The new guidelines provide for definite parameters in enforcing measures designed to prevent the departure of suspected human trafficking and illegal recruitment victims.

Filipino workers without the required overseas employment certificate from the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration shall not be allowed to leave.

Passengers suspected of being human trafficking and illegal recruitment victims shall be subjected to secondary inspection and assessed on the basis of age, educational attainment and financial capacity.

The rules also define specific requirements and assessment steps for each category of departing passengers who were grouped into either tourist travellers, OFWs, first time and returning OFWs, immigration or permanent visa holders abroad, and those with special purposes in going abroad.

Earlier, the government’s anti-human trafficking task force has intensified its drive against human smuggling as hundreds of Filipinos who lose their jobs would try their luck abroad.

Human trafficking syndicates, it said, would try to cash in on Filipino job seekers who were affected by the current global crisis, and would convince unwilling victims to go abroad despite non-existing jobs.

Authorities at the airports particularly at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport have drawn up plans in trying to prevent human trafficking of undocumented workers.

The immigration, Department of Labor and Employment, NBI, police, and other airport officials have discussed plans for an effective application of law against human smuggling. (PNA) DCT/BLV/utb


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