Profiling of tourists tightened

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Sunday, March 16, 2014

THE Bureau of Immigration (BI) only offloads tourists who are suspected of working abroad without proper documentation, in accordance with the anti-human trafficking law and its memorandum of agreement with the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA).

BI Cebu Alien Control Officer Casimiro Madarang III told Sun.Star Cebu that most of those offloaded are passengers with a tourist visa, but without a return ticket, no hotel accommodation at the destination, and are found to have the intention to work abroad without a contract of employment.

However, Madarang said passengers who are holding tourist visas and are really tourists, like children visiting their overseas Filipino workers (OFWs), parents who are or siblings of persons who are permanently residing abroad are allowed to depart immediately.


Madarang said passengers who are suspected of intending to work abroad but insist that they are real tourists will be required to present additional requirements to erase doubts.

Lawyer Brandon Enad, BI supervisor at Mactan-Cebu International Airport, said the immigration officers are now highly trained and are not anymore using the conventional profiling of tourists.

In determining whether a passenger is a real tourist, Enad said the immigration officers will conduct an inquiry based on hospitality, which includes the way she or he dresses, circumstances that include travel papers and other documents, and his or her financial capacity.
This requirement has been implemented since 2012.

Enad said there are two kinds of OFWs–the documented and the undocumented.

Most of the undocumented OFWs fall victims of trafficking and abuse by foreign employers who take advantage of their illegal stay in a foreign country.

If a passenger will work abroad, Enad said the BI will require them to show an overseas employment certificate from POEA, a regional enforcement clearance, and a work contract authenticated by the Philippine Embassy in a country where he or she is going to work.

Enad said that if an OFW has no employment contract, he or she may end up receiving US$100 instead of $400.

“It is the duty of the foreign employer or the recruitment agency to provide the contract with embassy authentication, stating the salary and other benefits. The employer will be required to put US$5,000 bond, which will be returned once the employment contract ends,” Enad said.

The $5,000 bond will be used by the government to expatriate the OFW if needed.

Enad said there are four kinds of passengers at the airport: the OFWs, tourists, immigrants and special classes.

Enad said that the Supreme Court, in a decision, has upheld the authority of the BI to offload passengers because of human trafficking and the practice of working abroad without documentation. (EOB)

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on March 16, 2014.

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