All port personnel were ordered by the Bureau of Immigration (BI) to defer the implementation of the 2023 Revised Guidelines on Departure Formalities.
This, following the announcement of the Department of Justice (DOJ) Inter-Agency Council Against Trafficking (IACAT) that it will suspend the guidelines in light of recent concerns raised in the Senate.
The primary objective of the guidelines, according to the IACAT, is to streamline departure procedures to ensure a more efficient and secure process of departing Filipinos.
BI Commissioner Norman Tansingco said that the new guidelines do not impose added requirements to regular departing tourists, and is meant to categorize departing Filipinos and list documentary requirements prior to departure.
“This does not curtail the right to travel, as the IACAT, through the BI, only ensures that departing Filipinos are properly documented based on their actual purpose of travel,” said Tansingco.
The DOJ said in an earlier statement that Secretary of Justice Jesus Crispin “Boying” Remulla deemed it necessary to suspend the implementation to thoroughly clarify issues surrounding the revised guidelines to both the senators and the public.
The BI reiterated that regular tourists are not required additional documentation apart from their passport, visa if needed in the country of destination, round trip ticket, boarding pass, and e-travel.
Only those undergoing secondary inspection, or only more than 1% of departing Filipinos may be required additional documents if deemed to have red flags or mismatch of their documents and purpose of travel.
“The same guidelines has been in effect since 2012, and revised in 2015, and the same metrics are being used by our immigration officers until present,” Tansingco added.
The DOJ also clarified that the temporary suspension of the implementation of the revised guidelines would, in effect, retain the current rules and guidelines in place until further notice.
“We respect the resolution of the Senate to suspend the implementation of the guidelines, and are working with other members of the inter-agency to be able to address any concern or clarification that the public might have. The IACAT also sees this as a good opportunity to be able to highlight the realities of human trafficking, and are welcome to discussion on how the government, as a whole, can combat this societal ill,” Tansingco said.