JV asks Senate to probe BI departure protocols

March 26, 2023 PS Jun M. Sarmiento 202 views

SENATOR Joseph Victor “JV” Ejercito has urged the Senate to investigate reports of unprofessionalism and inefficiency in the Bureau of Immigration’s departure protocols and procedures for international-bound passengers.

Ejercito earlier filed Proposed Senate Resolution No. 560 in response to recent incidents of Filipino travelers missing their flights due to “tedious and unreasonable” departure protocols and procedures.

“The power of the Bureau has been a subject of abuse over the years where there have been previous incidents of its officers subjecting travelers to a tedious and unreasonable departure procedure, causing travelers to miss their flights or their departure deferred by the officer altogether,” the Senator said.

“There is an urgent need to review the processes and departure protocols being implemented by the Bureau for international-bound passengers to avert similar incidents and to ultimately protect every Filipino citizen’s guaranteed constitutional right to travel,” he added.

The lawmaker from San Juan cited a Filipino passenger who recently missed her Israel-bound flight after dealing with lengthy, irrelevant, and unreasonable inquiries from an immigration officer.

According to the traveler, who has made rounds online after narrating her experiences on Tiktok, the immigration officer asked her about her parents’ relationship status and requested her to present either a graduation photo or yearbook to prove her educational background.

The said incident cost her around P50,000, which included the cost of her missed flight, as well as her rebooking fees.

The BI explained that the worsening situation of human trafficking and illegal recruitment in the country has prompted the agency to adopt stricter measures in monitoring departing passengers.

However, out of the 32,404 Filipinos who deferred departure in 2022, only 472 passengers were found to be victims of human trafficking and illegal recruitment, according to the bureau. A total of 873 travelers were caught misrepresenting themselves or presenting fake documents.

“The data is an indicator of an inefficient procedure of the Bureau in screening departing travelers and an inadequate system of preventing cases of human trafficking and illegal recruitment,” Ejercito said.

Ejercito said these incidents call for a review of the “outdated” Philippine Immigration Act and the modernization and professionalization of the BI.

“There are pending proposals to modernize and further professionalize the Bureau as the Philippine Immigration Act of 1940 governing its operation is an 80-year old law and has outdated provisions that have ceased to be responsive to present day situations despite its several amendments and revisions,” he said.