IMMIGRATION ISSUES AND CONCERNS May 14, 2012, Marlim Mansions Hotel Guest: Atty. Carlos Capulong Head, Immigration – DMIA Sponsor: Department of Tourism Region III • IN GENERAL, FILIPINOS TRAVELING ABROAD NEED ONLY TO PRESENT THE FOLLOWING DOCUMENTS: • Valid passport – at least 6 months; • Valid Original visa for port of entry( when required); and • For tourists, a return ticket. (Memorandum Order No. MCL – 07 -019 issued on October 24, 2007). • V. Requirements for Filipino emigrants as required by the Commission on Filipino Overseas (CFO). • They are required to register with the Commission on Filipinos Overseas (CFO). • They are required to attend in the Pre-Departure Orientation Seminar (PDOS) to prepare them for settlement overseas. • The children of emigrants aged 12 years old and below are exempt from attending the PDOS but must be registered even by proxy. • The children of emigrants aged 13 and above are required to attend the Peer Counseling Program to help facilitate their adjustment to a new environment. DOT PRESS STATEMENT….. DID YOU KNOW that mere possession of a valid passport and/or visa is not an absolute assurance of leaving the country? In many cases, passengers are refused departure at the Clark airport due to the following reasons: lack of pre-departure clearance from the Commission on Overseas Filipinos (CFO) for spouses, fiancé(e)s or partners of foreign nationals, or absence of evidence of financial capacity to travel for tourists. In the first case, one must attend a CFO guidance and counseling seminar, get a certificate of attendance and CFO sticker prior to departure (lacking in these requirements means absolute denial by the immigration officer). How to do this? One has to go to Manila to attend the seminar at Good Shepherd Convent, 1043 Aurora Blvd., Quezon City, Phone (632) 913-6439 or Fax (632) 913-6438 E-mail: [email protected] DOT PRESS STATEMENT…. In the second case, if one is traveling on a tourist visa, he or she must be ready to present evidence of financial capacity to travel (some people travel on tourist visa but end up working if given the right opportunity). If so, he or she must be ready to present an authenticated affidavit of support from the person to visit abroad. Otherwise, one is courting sure denial at the departure terminal. Examples of evidence of capacity to travel would include mayor’s permit, bank certificates, business name certificate, etc. Be ready with these documents upon demand by the immigration officer. CFO SEMINAR In these seminars, various topics are discussed such as: • Travel regulations; • Immigration procedures; • Cultural differences; • Settlement concerns; • Employment and social security concerns; and • Rights and obligations of Filipino migrants. For further details, please visit the website of the Commission on Filipino Overseas at http://www.cfo.gov.ph/pdos.htm WHAT IS THE BASIS OF ALL THIS OFFLOADING? Pursuant to Republic Act No. 9208, otherwise known as the “Anti-Trafficking in Persons Act of 2003”, otherwise known as the “Migrant Workers and Overseas Filipinos Act of 1995”, the following guidelines, providing for definite parameters in the strict enforcement of immigration departure formalities intended for the prevention of trafficking in persons, illegal recruitment, and other related offenses, are hereby promulgated for strict implementation/compliance by all concerned • I. TOURIST TRAVELERS • A traveler intending to go abroad with a tourist/temporary visitor’s visa shall be subjected to: • 1. Primary Inspection • During primary inspection, the following documents shall be required from a traveler: • a) Passport • b) Visa when required • c) Roundtrip Ticket • 2. Secondary Inspection • 2.1 BI shall conduct a secondary inspection, when deemed necessary, for the purpose of protecting vulnerable victims of human trafficking and illegal recruitment and other related offenses, through the assessment of the following circumstances: • a) Age • b) Educational attainment • c) Financial capability to travel • i. If not financially capable to travel, an authenticated affidavit of support, indicating therein the relationship within the 4th civil degree of consanguinity or affinity, together with the supporting documents, may be entertained; and • ii. An affidavit of undertaking/ guaranty may likewise be entertained. • 2.2 Any passenger/traveler who will be subjected for secondary inspection shall be required to accomplish the Bureau of Immigration Border Control Questionnaire (BCQ) to be furnished by the Immigration Officer. • • • • • • • • 2.3 However, the following shall automatically be subjected to secondary inspection: a) Travelers without financial capacity to travel escorted/accompanied by a foreigner who is not related; b) Minor traveling alone or unaccompanied by either parent or legal guardian without the required travel clearance from the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD); c) Repatriated irregular workers, in which case, travel may not be allowed without the clearance from the IACAT (generate data); d) Partners and spouses of foreign nationals intending to depart to meet and/or marry his/her fiancé without the CFO Guidance and Counseling Certificate; e) Passengers traveling to counties with existing deployment bans, alert levels and travel advisories and those in possession of a visas to the said countries; and f) Passengers who stayed abroad for more than one (1) year during a previous departure from the country as a tourist/temporary visitor, intending to depart for the second and/or subsequent time. 2.4 Clarificatory questions may be propounded relating to the abovementioned documents/purpose by the Bureau of Immigration. 2.5 A traveler found to be misrepresenting the purpose of his/her travel as tourist shall not be cleared for departure. WHAT PEOPLE SAY Bottom line - The agents at Clark cannot use common sense and they are all on power trips. This requirement to go to Manila for a seminar is absolutely ridiculous. They are not getting married, they are not OFWs, they are Filipino citizens with passports. JD He had gone through Immigration but they held his girlfriend. When the guy went with her and sat next to her he was told that he could not sit there. After five minutes or so, she came out and said they refused to let her fly. The reasons, one at a time were: She has nothing to prove she is coming back. She has no income, how will she pay? American - We have lived together for five years, I support her, she has money from me, I am responsible for her. She is from the province, not well educated, you have uniforms, she is scared and nervous. You give her harsh third degree - what do you expect? Sorry, she can't go. American - OK, then give me my money back as I am not going either. Oh Sir, you won't go? No, she is with me and I won't leave her. THEY FINALLY LET HER GO… Ronnie, I have read the references and still feel that the directives are being misinterpreted by the DMIA Immigration officials who are full of themselves. Filipina citizens simply going on a holiday either with someone or by themselves are being abused. IT IS WRONG! If Noy Noy wanted to take his latest hot chick Lee to Hong Kong, would she have to get this certificate? Is it a one time certificate or must one be obtained for every trip out of country? I just had an incident at Clark airport with immigration yesterday. They refused my girlfriend to travel to hong kong despite the fact that she was travelling with me and we had a round trip ticket. The official asked her a bunch of personal questions about how long we have been dating, living together, how long have we traveled together before, how many times. They stamped, signed, and approved her passport but when I started asking the guy why he asked her so many personal questions he got mad and said she was not able to go now and had to do a secondary screening. She called me 20 minutes later to tell me that they denied her. Obviously I was angry having just wasted $450 dollars on the plane tickets and also missing a boxing match. When I finally got someone to explain what the rationale was for denying her they said she didn't have a Commission of Filipinos Overseas document called Guidance and Counseling. I just read your interesting article about CIA immigration. It's a common occurrence. I've had at least 5 friends whose companions were refused boarding. They tried it on me once at Manila, but I pulled my diplomatic ID and they backed off. Anyway, several years ago, the BI commissioner issued a directive stating that 'under the Constitution, Filipinos had "the God given right" to travel abroad, and could not be stopped if they had a valid passport, were of legal age and were not traveling to destinations requiring a visa for entry. I'll try to find my copy of it. I am wondering if this should not be brought before the Human Rights Commission. I think they'd have a field day with it. Maybe the immigration slogan should read "It More Fun In The Philippines, Until You Try To Leave". What happens at the guidance and counseling seminar? BDO offers its bldg for free! I asked her a little more detail, and she said the first 45 minutes was a BDO talk on opening bank accounts and how to transfer money. They were able to open accounts at BDO on the spot if they wished. The person taking the seminar explained that BDO owned the building and gave it to them rent free so they were able to sell their products. After reading about the unconscionable behaviour of Bureau of Immigration staff at CIA in your May newsletter, I imagine you’ve failed to grasp the point behind their conduct. Bureau officials are in fact doing them a favour. The Bureau of Immigration, at the behest of the government, are discouraging Filipinas from traveling overseas because they have no wish to expose them to well governed countries with a functioning, polite bureaucracy. Can impressionable young ladies from the Philippines be expected to cope with such policies as environmentally friendly cities, paved roads, functioning and well maintained public transport systems, honest taxi drivers, an absence of malice and rudeness in public servants, competence in government and a lack of corruption? I think not. I think these young women would be shocked by the efficiency with which other countries operate. AFFIDAVIT OF SUPPORT - The immigration people refused to talk to me just said to check their web site. As their web site tells you to gain a affidavit of support from the Philippine embassy in my country (Australia) and on checking the embassy has no idea what that is. Staff at Philippine embassy in Australia assured me their is no problem as long as she has the above documents. As for assurance of support that is "not their job" and they "have no knowledge of any such document". BI Staffing - Patently stupid operating procedure by immigration is the opening of only two slots – out of the six – at the immigration counters, be it at the departure or the arrival area. It does not take a rocket scientist to see the hell of a set-up there given the volume of passengers using the Clark airport. Imagine if the world finance leaders and the ADB Governors will discover the processing chaos at Clark Airport which has only two Immigration officers to serve over 600 air passengers for the day. That is the CIA’s black mark. PROFILING - Two Filipinas with Resort World-Singapore vowed never to return via Clark again after their harrowing experience in the hands of immigration agents. They claimed they were subjected to verbal indignities, mis-profiled by the agents as commercial sex workers. The articulate Australian tourist said it took him an hour and a half to go through immigration. On a business trip to China, Ruperto Cruz, chairman of the Pinoy Gumising Ka Movement, the prime advocacy group for the full development of the CIA, was at the airport past 5 a.m., got stymied at the immigration counters and barely managed some banter with newsmen at the terminal before rushing to his 7:15 flight. “OUTRAGEOUS DISGRACE!” – Phil. Daily Inquirer Online Luciano has surpassed his expectations of increased travelers via Clark. He finds it frustrating that the present Clark airport has lagged in infrastructure development. His first priority is to build a world-class terminal to prepare CIA as the alternate Philippine gateway, next to the over-congested NAIA. STAFFING - There is no plausible reason for David to find it difficult to augment his BI plantilla and fill up the required number of Immigration officers at various airports in the country. “At BI Clark alone, some l7 ‘intelligence operatives’ received remuneration from whatever source, why can’t the bureau hire four more personnel to man the BI counter?” This was asked by regular air commuters. The passengers he randomly asked about their CIA experience were unanimous in denouncing their sufferance at the Immigration counter. RANDOM INSPECTION - However last time i was in Angeles i heard from a couple of guys that their girlfriends was refused travel by immigration in the same situation as me. The guy was sort of considered some kind of white slaver by immigration and to "protect" the girlfriend she was refused permission to travel outside of Philippines. From what I understand this is a random sort of thing with some having no trouble while others are randomly picked out to be screwed over. RONNIE TIOTUICO ON PROFILING- This issue on the socalled "off-loading" has been bothering the traveling public. I wrote Commissioner Libanan about PROFILING. Commissioner replied by saying that it is absolutely legal and justified for any BID agent to ban someone from boarding a plane on suspicion that the subject tourist is traveling for reasons other than doing a tourist bit or has no capacity to do so. Under these circumstances, the issue on human trafficking or prostitution comes to mind. Libanan said that this practice of Immigration agents is provided for under the law that created the commission. If in the mind of BI officer that a passenger is traveling for reason other than the intended purpose indicated in his/her passport, he or she can be barred from leaving the country. In short, it's the law! Code of conduct of BI Personnel Rule II SECTION 1. Bureau personnel shall perform and discharge their duties with the highest degree of honesty, morality, excellence, professionalism, intelligence and skill and they shall extend prompt, courteous and adequate service to the public and shall at all times remain sincere and true to their calling as public servants. THAT’S ALL FOLKS! Thanks for dropping by….