Kunwari BI bans this or that. What this news means is that immigration personnel at NAIA will increase their rate for escort service.

How can you ban someone who’s got a tourist visa?  Where is the law that says BI has this authority? What kind of stupid assumption is it that just because a person looks like suspiciously ‘patay-gutom‘ or ‘promdi‘, it is not possible that he/she can become a tourist. Pity for those who have to borrow or pawn properties just to get out of our God-forsaken, graft-ridden, corrupt-laden country — only to be prevented by BI from leaving.

Preventing Filipinos with tourist visas from leaving to countries where Philippines declared a ban is unconstitutional (ahem!). Maybe somebody should go to the Supreme Court and challenge this BI policy.

This cannot prevent Filipinos from being victimized by illegal recruitment. It is the lack of jobs that drives our countrymen to take desperate measures. And preventing all and sundry that doesn’t look wealthy enough to afford a vacation abroad is really a curtailment of an individual’s right to travel freely.

And worst are the reaction of BI personnel — “nahuli“. “Nahuli” for what? Is it a crime to travel abroad? Palibhasa kasi, sanay na “mahuli” sa akto ng pangongotong mga personnel na to, kaya yan bukambibig.

Hirap talaga ng buhay sa Pinas. Ina alila ka na sa sarili mong bansa, tinatrato ka pa na kriminal sa pag pupumilit na makahanap ng trabaho sa ibang bansa.


naia3.jpgSunday, December 09, 2007

BI bans ‘tourist OFWs’ from leavingPhilippines

By William A. Depasupil, Reporter

SOME 250 undocumented overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) disguised as tourists had been barred from leaving the country in the last several months following an intensified drive by the Bureau of Immigration (BI) against the notorious escort service racket at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA).

Immigration Commissioner Marcelino Libanan has also ordered a tighter scrutiny on the travel documents of departing Filipino tourists following reports that human traffickers have been using fake return airline tickets to smuggle un­documented workers abroad.

Libanan disclosed that of the 310 passengers offloaded from their flights from June 15 to September 30 at the NAIA, 282 were Filipinos. Of this number, 250 were “tourist workers” or undocumented OFWs disguised as tourists.

“Many of them did not have the required clearances from the POEA and attempted to leave in violation of the government’s ban on the departure of undocumented OFWs,” Libanan said, adding that most of the passengers were bound for various Asian destinations, such as the Middle East, Hong Kong and Singapore.

The so-called escort racket, ran by grafters from various government agencies operating at the NAIA, had been blamed for the plight of many undocumented OFWs abroad who are suffering maltreatment and abuse from their foreign employers.

Libanan has formed a special team, the Migration Compliance and Monitoring Group (MCMG), in June and tasked it with implementing the President’s marching orders to stop the escort racket.

The BI chief said that the departure of undocumented OFWs should be stopped as many of them end up being victimized by unfair labor practices and are exploited in foreign lands.

Being undocumented, these OFWs could not avail of legal protection nor seek redress for abuses committed against them by abusive foreign employers.

The BI, Libanan added, is also in close coordination with the Department of Foreign Affairs, the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) and the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration in addressing the problem.

Tourist workers are usually bound for countries where there is an existing deployment ban.

Labor and Employment Secretary Arturo Brion had earlier said that the deployment ban remains in Iraq, Afghanistan, Lebanon and Nigeria, pending DOLE’s reassessment of the peace and order situation in these countries.

Libanan instructed immigration officers at the NAIA and other international airports to make sure that the return tickets of departing Filipino tourists are genuine before they are allowed to board their flights.

He said those whose plane tickets appear to be dubious or tampered should be referred to the airlines concerned to check their validity and authenticity.

Libanan also warned that immigration officers who connived with the syndicates in facilitating the departure of passengers with spurious plane tickets would be suspended and investigated, which could lead to their dismissal from the service.

Passengers with fake return tickets should not be allowed to leave as it indicates that such travelers are not legitimate tourists, but are contract workers or job seekers disguised as tourists, Libanan said.

Possession of a roundtrip ticket is a requirement for Filipino tourists who travel abroad as it serves to prove that the traveler is going abroad for pleasure, and not for any other purpose, such as finding a job or working illegally in his country of destination.

The DFA had earlier reported that some Filipinos have been jailed in Singapore for presenting fake electronic roundtrip tickets upon their arrival there.

The DFA said the travelers managed to deceive Philippine immigration officers with the spurious tickets when they left the country, adding that the scheme was concocted by human traffickers working with unscrupulous travel agents and illegal recruiters.

DFA’s initial investigation also disclosed that human traffickers and illegal recruiters employ the scheme to lower costs as they are the parties who promised to provide free roundtrip tickets to their victims, who later repay their debts when they start earning abroad.

DFA advised Filipinos not to use the fraudulent tickets from travel agencies to avoid inconveniences, and instead, procure open-dated return tickets if they are not sure of the date of their return.