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Philippines Gets Tough On "Work Tourism"

139 ‘tourist workers’ barred from leaving RP

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Apr 23, 2008

Manila, Philippines - The Bureau of Immigration (BI) has barred 139 Filipino “tourist workers” and 43 foreign nationals from leaving the country from January to March this year.

Immigration Commissioner Marcelino C. Libanan said more than half of the offloaded passengers were “tourist workers” or those intending to work abroad only on tourist visas.

The Filipinos were bound for Singapore, Hong Kong, Dubai, and other destinations in the Middle East, he said.

The passengers were intercepted at the departure areas of the Ninoy Aquino International Airport 1 and 2 terminals by agents of the BI Migration Compliance and Monitoring Group, which spearheads the drive against the "escort racket and human trafficking" at the air terminal.

Libanan formed the group June last year in response to President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo's order to stop the escort racket in NAIA, and "to safeguard the interest and welfare of Filipinos working abroad."

The immigration chief said the bureau will continue to strictly implement the ban on the departure of "tourist workers" even as he said it will always "exercise utmost caution in making sure that the campaign…does not infringe on the right of every Filipino citizen to travel, which is enshrined in the Constitution."

"It was for this reason that I issued last October a memorandum order defining the immigration procedures and formalities for departing Filipinos that immigration officers at airports are bound to observe," Libanan said.

He added that the memorandum directs immigration officers to allow the departure of a Filipino tourist if he has a valid passport, a valid visa when required, and a return ticket.

It also directs officials not to require the submission of other documents for departure, except in the case of unaccompanied minors wherein a clearance from the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) is needed.

Meanwhile, 29 of the passengers were on the immigration bureau’s hold departure list and the BI watchlist, Libanan said.

The foreigners were found to have incomplete of defective travel papers, he said.

139 ‘tourist workers’ barred from leaving RP

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