Dubai: Calls for a review of the Philippine Bureau of Immigration's "offloading policy" have gained ground as the Inter-Agency Council Against Trafficking (IACAT) is set to discuss the matter today.
"I believe there is a need for the Bureau of Immigration to have proper guidelines in the offloading of passengers. The basis for preventing a Filipino from leaving the country should be clearly spelled out to minimise the exercise of discretion on the part of immigration personnel," said Vice-President Jejomar Binay, presidential adviser on overseas Filipino workers and chair emeritus of IACAT.
IACAT is authorised by law to coordinate and monitor the implementation the Anti-Trafficking in Persons Act of 2003.
Bureau of Immigration spokesperson Atty. Ma. Antonette Mangrobang told Gulf News the bureau is already looking into the complaints and intends to produce clear-cut guidelines.
"The bureau, with the IACAT, is trying to improve ways to ensure that in our implementation of the anti-human trafficking law, we are limiting the opportunities for abuse," Atty. Mangrobang said. "This is an inter-agency effort and it will have to be decided upon by the council."
The IACAT meeting, which has been rescheduled three times since September, is a big development according to the Alliance of Overseas Filipino Workers Against Affidavit of Support (AOS), which symbolically binned copies of the AOS on October 7, claiming the document was "unnecessary and has bred corruption among some BI officials".
The alliance comprises eight UAE-based organisations which are challenging the Philippine government to scrap the implementation of the AOS, an attested guarantee letter which Filipinos present to prove they have support from a relative in the host country.
"The alliance sees this as a mark of victory for overseas Filipino workers [OFWs]," said Yuri Cipriano, chairperson of Migrante-UAE and representative of the alliance. "We have received tremendous support from the Filipino community since launching the petition, which is a clear manifestation that majority of OFWs are united against this anti-OFW policy of the Philippine government."
While four organisations defected from the alliance earlier this week, a group of UAE-based lawyers from The Philippines Legal Advocates (PLEAD) have joined the call to scrap the AOS.
"The AOS unjustifiably tramples on the Filipino's constitutional right to travel," a PLEAD statement said.
If you had been victimised by alleged corrupt officials in Philippines airports, please email the Filcom-DNE through email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org to submit the following documents:
- Copy of boarding pass.
- Exit stamp in the Philippines showing the control number and initials/signature of the BI officer.
- Original passport (with bearer).
- Sworn statement.