Zubiri: Senate to hold hearing on revised departure guidelines

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, August 31) — The Senate will conduct a hearing on the revised guidelines for outbound Filipino travelers despite the suspension of the implementation of the rules, Senate President Juan Miguel Zubiri said Thursday.

In a press briefing, Zubiri said he wants the Inter-Agency Council Against Trafficking (IACAT) to explain the basis for crafting the revised travel guidelines, noting that the rules are unconstitutional, violate anti-privacy laws, and may also lead to corruption.

"We need to still continue with the hearing to find out and discuss these issues," he said.

“On our side, we'll present to them why shouldn't the guidelines be put in place and other measures should be taken to combat human trafficking rather than harassing our kababayans na gusto lang makabyahe sa ibang bansa (fellow Filipinos who only want to travel abroad)," he added.

Zubiri said 32,000 passengers were offloaded by the Bureau of Immigration in 2022. Of the number, only 1.4% were found to have been victims of human trafficking.

"Ang gusto nga namin sana mangyari, 'yong mga naperwisyo, itong mga 32,000 na na-offload sana may mga maimbita kami na 5 or 10 man lang (What we want is to invite five or 10 of the 32,000 passengers who we're offloaded) so that they could share their stories," he said, adding that the Senate will protect them.

"It will be an open hearing, we're waiting for Sen. Grace Poe under the public services committee to conduct the hearing and the hearing date…Maybe late next week we'll have a hearing,” he added.

The IACAT on Aug. 23 approved the revised guidelines for international-bound Filipino travelers to "combat the grave menace of human trafficking." The rules were supposed to take effect early September.

READ: What you need to know about the new requirements for Filipinos traveling overseas

On Aug. 30, senators approved an unnumbered resolution calling for the suspension of the implementation of the revised departure guidelines.

They also approved another resolution allowing Zubiri to file a petition at the Supreme Court, seeking a temporary restraining order against the amended rules if deemed necessary.

The Department of Justice, through the IACAT, announced the suspension of the implementation of the guidelines on Aug. 31.