JV seeks probe of BI procedures for departing passengers
Sen. JV Ejercito is seeking a Senate investigation into the questionable procedures of the Bureau of Immigration (BI) for departing passengers amid mounting complaints about the “unprofessionalism and inefficiency” of immigration officers manning airports.
In filing Senate Resolution No. 560, Ejercito cited the case of Cham Tanteras, a Filipino traveler who missed her flight to Israel in December 2022 after a BI personnel allegedly subjected her to unusual and unnecessary questioning.
Tanteras, who shared her unfortunate experience in a now-viral TikTok video, said the immigration agent asked her if she had brought a graduation photo and yearbook to prove that she had finished school and if her parents were separated.
The senator said another passenger of a flight bound for Taiwan, who experienced a similar incident in January, had already filed a complaint with the Office of the Ombudsman against two BI personnel.
“Similar incidents surfaced where Filipinos traveling abroad have been offloaded or have missed their flights because of the inefficient process of the bureau,” Ejercito said.
“There is an urgent need to review the processes and departure protocols being implemented by the bureau for international-bound passengers to avert similar incidents and to ultimately protect every Filipino citizen’s guaranteed constitutional right to travel,” he said.
Ejercito said the BI’s authority had been abused by its personnel who arbitrarily made passengers undergo “a tedious and unreasonable departure procedure, causing travelers to miss their flights or [have] their departure deferred.”
The BI has justified that its strict screening was intended to prevent human trafficking.
But Ejercito said that BI data showed that out of 32,404 Filipinos barred from boarding their flights, only 472 turned out to be victims of illegal recruitment.
Another 873 were held for using spurious documents to fly out of the country, according to Ejercito.
“The data is an indicator of an inefficient procedure of the bureau in screening departing travelers and an inadequate system of preventing cases of human trafficking and illegal recruitment,” Ejercito stressed.
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