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MANILA, Philippines – Bowing to public pressure, the Department of Justice (DOJ) on Thursday, August 31, announced the temporary suspension of the revised departure rules for Filipinos traveling abroad.
The suspension, through the Inter-Agency Council Against Trafficking (IACAT), was made following criticisms and concerns about the revised guidelines.
“However, in light of recent concerns raised by our esteemed senators and to address the importance of transparency and public consultation, the Secretary of Justice, Jesus Crispin ‘Boying’ Remulla, has deemed it necessary to thoroughly clarify the issues surrounding the revised guidelines to both the senators and the public,” the justice department said in a statement sent to reporters.
The DOJ noted, however, that the temporary suspension does not affect existing laws.
“We take this opportunity to remind everyone that the temporary suspension of the implementation of the revised guidelines on departure formalities does not affect existing laws and regulations governing travel and immigration procedures. All existing rules and guidelines remain in place until further notice,” it clarified.
The DOJ said it also “acknowledges” the role of lawmakers, adding that it is the department’s “duty to address their concerns and provide them with the necessary information and clarifications.” The justice department mentioned the legislature because on Wednesday, August 30, the Senate approved a resolution seeking suspension of the guidelines.
On August 18, the IACAT issued the revised rules in a bid to address the “evolving profile of human trafficking victims.” The updated guidelines were supposed to take effect on September 3.
However, not long after the announcement of the revised rules, confusion grew and the public raised concerns over the guidelines. On August 24, Justice Secretary Remulla said the new rules mostly apply to first-time travelers, while DOJ spokesperson Assistant Secretary Mico Clavano clarified that the guidelines did not impose additional requirements.
The justice department also issued an apology for its “failed communication” of the revised rules.
In its Thursday statement, the DOJ maintained that the revised rules’ objective “was to streamline the departure procedures, ensuring a more efficient and secure process for all individuals traveling abroad.” The justice department also reiterated that the rules did not also mean to put additional burden on the public. – Rappler.com