Bureau of Immigration Orders Strict Screening of Departing Pinoys

The Bureau of Immigration (BI) issued stricter measures for Filipino travelers going abroad, a move that would intensify its campaign against human trafficking.

Immigration officers deployed in all international ports of entry and departure nationwide have been ordered to be doubly strict in allowing the departure of Pinoy tourists.

This is in compliance with a memorandum order issued by BI acting commissioner Ronaldo Ledesma, providing for “strict departure formalities” for departing Filipinos.

The memorandum orders BI officers to be on the lookout for suspected victims of human trafficking and prevent their departure from the country.

A Filipino traveler will not be allowed to leave if he or she is “undocumented, improperly documented and incompletely documented.”

According to Ledesma, the new policy is also in line with the provisions of Republic Act 9208 or the Anti-Trafficking in Persons Act of 2003, which mandates the meticulous screening of travel papers and pre-departure requirements of traveling overseas Filipino workers (OFWs).

Ledesma explained that the same act also provides for stricter departure formalities for fiancés and spouses of foreigners and requires travel clearances from social welfare authorities for traveling unaccompanied minors.

“Thus, the individual right to travel may be regulated by the BI whenever immigration officers detect a human-trafficking situation,” Ledesma said.

BI revokes previous order

Meanwhile, Ledesma also revoked a previous memorandum order issued in 2007 which relaxed the BI’s policy on departing Filipino travelers.

Arvin Santos, BI airport operations division chief, said the revoked memorandum directs immigration officers to allow the departure of a Filipino if he or she has a valid passport, visa and a return ticket when required.

Santos stressed that the memorandum was revoked because it is irrelevant and ran counter to the objectives of the government’s ongoing drive against human trafficking.