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Immigration: 43k Pinoys barred from leaving PHL during the past year

edited July 2017 in Bagong Balita
More than 43,000 Filipinos were stopped from leaving the country during the past year for failure to comply with existing requirements for departing tourists, the Bureau of Immigration (BI) said Friday.

Records from the BI ports operations division show immigration officers in the different ports offloaded from July 2016 up to June this year a total of 43,233 Filipino travelers.

BI port operations division chief Marc Red Mariñas said the passengers' departures were deferred pending compliance with certain requirements which will prove that they are legitimate tourists and not “tourist workers,” a term used for undocumented overseas workers disguised as tourists.

"It depends on their representation. For example, if you are visiting a relative, you have to show proof of relationship," Immigration spokesperson Antonette Mangrobang told GMA News Online.

The BI said 502 of the passengers, suspected of being trafficking victims, were turned over to the Inter-Agency Council Against Trafficking (IACAT) for investigation.

The BI also referred 433 cases to the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) for appropriate action.

According to Mangrobang, some passengers were eventually allowed to depart after complying with travel requirements.

"I just do not have the numbers now," she said.

Ninety percent of the offloaded passengers were screened at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) while the rest were processed in other ports such as Mactan, Clark, Kalibo, Zamboanga, Davao, and Iloilo.

“Our immigration officers at the NAIA and other ports of entry will remain vigilant in screening outbound Filipino travelers to make sure that they do not fall prey to human traffickers and illegal recruiters,” said Immigration Commissioner Jaime Morente.

Morente issued the statement following the release by the US State Department of its 2017 report which retained the Philippines under Tier 1 in its ranking of various countries’ efforts to combat human trafficking.

“We will not relax our guard so long as many of our countrymen are being lured by these syndicates to illegally travel abroad by taking advantage of their poverty,” he said. — RSJ/KVD, GMA News



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