Senate eyes approval of right to travel bill before sine die adjournment

April 25, 2012 9:47 pm 

MANILA, April 25 – Any individual barred from traveling abroad due to a hold departure order issued based on a mere complaint will soon get a hassle-free journey.

Senator Francis ‘Chiz’ Escudero said on Wednesday that the Senate committee on justice and human rights had consolidated three bills on the right to travel, hoping for its passage by end of May or before sine die adjournment of Congress on June 7 this year.

”It is important for us to address due to some problems confronting some travelers who were offloaded based only on mere complaints or filed cases but have no means to seek remedy to lift this kind of order,” Escudero explained to the media after a public hearing on the measures filed by Senators Jinggoy Estrada, Miriam Defensor Santiago and Manny Villar.

Escudero said several important suggestions had been aired during the public hearing but “what is important is guidelines on the part of an offloaded passenger.”

”What he or she should do, what remedy they would make if they will be offloaded. There should be proper guidelines and remedy on appeal process,” Escudero said.

Escudero opposed the profiling, which include education attainment as basis to offload passenger, saying “you mean if you are not high school graduate, you will be offloaded?”

”So far standing record is 60,000 passengers were offloaded. They paid terminal fee, borrowed money to buy tickets only to be offloaded due to profiling that they might be victim of white slavery or did not finish highs school,” Escudero said.

Based on the proposed bills, the right to travel within the country and abroad shall not be denied a person without due process of law.

”The right to travel can only be restricted upon a clear showing of reasonable and compelling reasons that the proposed travel is harmful to national security, public safety and public health,” Escudero said during the public hearing.

Escudero has instructed all the stakeholders to submit their position papers to the technical working group (TWG).

Commission on Human Rights (CHR) commissioner Coco Quisumbing said the CHR supported the measure but proposed the inclusion of a provision that would require airport personal to show respect and courtesy to all passengers.

”I myself has experienced disrespect. The respect they give to the Aranetas should also be given to ordinary OFW (overseas Filipino worker). They should treat all the passengers with respect because anyway, we are paying terminal fee and we also deserve to be treated well,” Quisumbing said.

Escudero urged the Bureau of Immigration (BI) and other concerned agencies to study best practices in other countries to improve the services in all the airports in the country. (PNA) RMA/jfm

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