DOJ: New departure rules not meant to hinder right to travel

The Department of Justice (DOJ) on Saturday clarified that the additional documents that may be asked of outbound travelers are not intended to hinder the rights of Filipinos to travel. At the Saturday News Forum in Quezon City, DOJ spokesperson Mico Clavano said the new departure rules serve as added layers to curb trafficking in person (TIP). Additional documents would be required if the immigration officer detects 'red flags,' hinting that the traveler is a potential human trafficking victim or a perpetrator, Clavano said. 'Iyong ibang additional documents na posibleng hingin, doon lang po hihingin ng immigration officers kapag mayroon nakitang mga red flag - kung nakakaduda po iyong kuwento ng ating mga traveler, kung insufficient po iyong mga document or makikitang peke po iyong mga dokumento (As for the other documents, the only time the immigration officers will ask for them is if they see a red flag - if the response of the traveler is suspicious, if the documents are insufficient or if they detect that the document is fake),' he said. Still, he advised first-time travelers and overseas workers to prepare the additional documents based on their categories in the Inter-Agency Council Against Trafficking's (IACAT) 2023 revised departure guidelines for international-bound Filipino passengers. 'Kapag hindi satisfied iyong immigration officer sa primary inspection, doon ka lang iri-refer sa secondary inspection. Hindi pa po iyon investigation. For further questioning pa iyon para po makita talaga lahat ng dokumento (If the immigration officer is not satisfied during the primary inspection, that's the time you will be referred for secondary inspection. It's not an investigation but to allow the officer to see the other documents),' he said. Clavano said 39,061 passengers were referred for secondary inspection from Jan. 1 to May 15, at least 13,764 of whom had their departures deferred. He said IACAT did not change the process in the 2023 revised guidelines, particularly with the presentation of required basic travel documents. Intensified fight vs. TIP Clavano said President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. himself has given specific instructions to maintain the country's Tier 1 ranking in the State Department TIP report. 'That means he will support all the facets and all the programs that the IACAT has already put in place and he would like to enhance those programs,' he said. He said the DOJ gave Marcos a situation report on the severity of human trafficking and he understood 'very clearly the depth and how widespread this problem is.' Aside from issuing the 2023 revised guidelines, the government is working with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations through coordination meetings and summits to strengthen cooperation against the transnational crime. The Philippines was placed under Tier 1 ranking in the 2023 United States TIP report, a status the country has kept for eight consecutive years. Tier 1, the highest in the three-tier ranking, indicates that a country 'fully meets the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking.'

Source: Philippines News Agency