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MANILA, Philippines – By September 3, Filipinos heading to another country – mostly those traveling for the first time – may need to provide additional documents at immigration counters in line with the government’s revised guidelines for international travelers.
The Inter-Agency Council Against Trafficking (IACAT), which issued the revised departure rules on August 18, said these are necessary to combat the “evolving profile of human trafficking victims.”
The council said that trafficking victims increasingly pose as tourists with sufficient means to travel abroad, but their real intention is to seek overseas employment.
In a press briefing on Thursday, August 24, Department of Justice officials clarified a few things to address apprehensions by the public:
- A large part of the guidelines had always been in place, but they were releasing the details of the revised version “for transparency.”
- The documents specified in the guidelines are not absolute requirements but are a list of supporting papers that may be asked of the travelers.
- The guidelines will mostly apply to first-time travelers, who may be traveling as tourists but are profiled to have intentions to seek work abroad.
- Around 95% of travelers are required to present only these basic documents: valid passport; valid visa, depending on the destination; boarding pass; confirmed return ticket, when necessary.
What may be asked of different types of travelers
Self-funded travelers may now need to provide documents such as proof of accommodation abroad, proof of employment in the Philippines, and proof of their financial capacity or source of income.
Travelers being sponsored by relatives or others abroad may have to show birth or marriage certificates, among other documents, that show their relationship to the sponsors. A notarized affidavit of support and guarantee is among these documents.
Travelers sponsored by a non-relative or a juridical entity, such as a company, may be asked to show a notarized affidavit of support and guarantee, as well as a document showing the relationship between the passenger and sponsor.
Overseas Filipino workers will need to show their OFW clearance from the Department of Migrant Workers – a longstanding requirement usually interchangeable with the Overseas Employment Certificate – along with supporting documents, such as their work permit and employment contract.
Questioning should not take long
As for fears that the additional requirements could extend the already-lengthy immigration process – in some cases, causing Filipino travelers to miss their flights and hampered OFWs from making it in time for the start of their employment – the guidelines say travelers who have to undergo further questioning must not be subject to it for more than 15 minutes. Extensions of this period are only for extraordinary circumstances.
“It is of paramount importance to emphasize that the Revised Guidelines have been formulated not to encroach upon the fundamental right to travel, but to serve as a protective bulwark shielding our fellow citizens from the dire perils of human trafficking,” IACAT said in a press release on Tuesday, August 22.
The guidelines were first published on August 18 and will take effect 15 days from that date, or on September 3. Here is a copy of the full guidelines.
– with a report from Lance Spencer Yu/Rappler.com