Revised guidelines for overseas Pinoy travelers too strict, inconvenient – lawmaker

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, August 23) — The revised guidelines of the Inter-Agency Council Against Trafficking (IACAT) for overseas Filipino travelers are "too strict" and would "entail a lot of inconveniences," a lawmaker complained on Wednesday.

In a briefing in the House of Representatives for the Department of Justice's (DOJ) proposed 2024 budget, OFW Party-list Rep. Marissa "Del Mar" Magsino said the revised guidelines require additional documents that seem "too difficult to acquire."

The DOJ is the lead agency in IACAT.

"Masyado pong strict to support 'yong ating anti-human trafficking, we have to preserve the ease of traveling sa ating passengers with respect to their constitutional right to travel," Magsino told DOJ officials.

The Inter-Agency Council Against Trafficking (IACAT) approved the revised guidelines for international-bound Filipino travelers with the aim to "combat the grave menace of human trafficking."

READ: Anti-trafficking council OKs revised guidelines for overseas Filipino travelers

Magsino described as too burdensome a rule requiring a traveler sponsored by relatives on the fourth civil degree to present an original affidavit of support or guarantee authenticated by Philippine Consular officials in the destination country.

"Will they not cause further delay sa pagpo-process ng ating traveler [in processing our travelers]?" Magsino asked. "Will they not provide a potential source of corruption among our immigration officials…such as 'yong [the] baseless offloading and extortion activities?"

"Sobrang effect nito sa ating mga OFWs (Overseas Filipino Workers) na nagtatrabaho sa abroad baka makakuha lang sila ng consular requirements na ito ay tapos na po ang taon, buwan, hindi pa sila makakuha," she added.

[Translation: This has a grave effect on our OFWs. They might not be able to secure the consular requirement even if the year or month is over.]

The OFW Party-list representative added that it's not easy even for members of Congress to connect with consular offices, "lalo pa silang walang koneksyon dito [especially OFWs who don't have connections]."

DOJ Undersecretary Nicholas Felix Ty said the technical working group (TWG) simplified some of the departure formalities but it also needed to retain some requirements that are deemed important.

"'Yong ibang requirements tulad ng nabanggit ni [Representative] Magsino, naiwan ito dahil natiyak ng TWG na medyo importante talaga lalo na for distant relatives or 'yong mga no-relation na ma-establish talaga ang kanila support and relationship sa kanilang ini-sponsor," Ty said.

[Translation: Requirements mentioned by Representative Magsino were retained because they were deemed by the TWG as important, especially establishing the support and relationship of the distant relative or those with no relation who will sponsor the traveler.]

Ty assured the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA), a member of the IACAT and among those who crafted the departure formalities, will make ways to ease the process.

"Kakausapin din namin yong foreign posts abroad na subukang i-expedite ang process ng pag-issue ng documents na kailangan ng ating mga OFWs upang mag-sponsor ng mga kamag-anak nila magbiyahe," he added.

[Translation: We will talk to foreign posts abroad to try to expedite the process of issuance of documents needed by the OFWs to sponsor their relatives who will be traveling.]