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No change in procedures for departing Pinoys – BI

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The Bureau of Immigration (BI) clarified on Friday that it retains the same metrics in assessing departing tourists.

BI Commissioner Norman Tansingco confirmed the statements of the Department of Justice (DOJ) stating that the new guidelines is a clarification of the already existing guidelines on departure formalities.

In a press briefing held on Thursday, DOJ Secretary Jesus Crispin Remulla stated that the recently-released guidelines by the Inter-agency council against trafficking (IACAT) poses no additional requirements for departing tourists.

“The guidelines streamline the requirements and do not add more to departing tourists,” said Remulla. “More than 95% of departing Filipinos would not need to present more documents apart from the basic ones,” he stressed.

Tansingco stated that in the guidelines, departing tourists are only required a passport valid for at least 6 months, a valid visa if visa required, a boarding pass, and a confirmed round trip ticket.

The new guidelines, Tansingco said, merely writes down requirements for other categories of departing Filipinos.

He clarified that as in the past, only Filipinos that depart with red flags may be required to show additional supporting documents, which are now specified in the guidelines. The list, he said, would ensure that immigration officers look at specific requirements and not require frivolous documents.

In the briefing, the IACAT highlighted the importance of the guidelines in protecting departing Filipinos from human trafficking and illegal recruitment. Republic Act 9208 or The Anti-Trafficking in Persons Act of 2003 also requires the IACAT to promulgate rules and regulations to suppress trafficking.

“This is the same procedure we have been previously implementing, but it has been streamlined by the IACAT so it is clearer for Filipinos,” he stated.

The guidelines, the IACAT said, streamlines requirements for each type of departing passenger in line with the President’s directive. The move, according to the BI, would clarify needed departure documents and eliminate unnecessary requirements and questions from immigration officers.

Tansingco shared that the guidelines on departure formalities have been in place since 2012, and was later revised in 2015. He assured travelers that the new guidelines would not be reason for unnecessary interviews.

The IACAT is an interagency body chaired by the DOJ, co-chaired by the Department of Social Welfare and Development.

Some of the member agencies are the BI, Department of Foreign Affairs, Department of Information and Communications Technology, Department of Tourism, Department of Migrant Workers, Commission on Filipinos Overseas, National Bureau of Investigation, and the Philippine National Police. Also members of the council are non-government organizations International Justice Mission, Coalition Against Trafficking of Women-Asia and the Pacific, and Blas Ople Policy Center and Training Institute.

“There is no new policy for departing tourists being implemented by the BI. The guidelines has been here since 2012—which is more than a decade ago, and has been refined by IACAT to address concerns raised by the public. Departing tourists need not worry,” he added.

Itchie G. Cabayan
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