Lawmakers urge IACAT to scrap new travel rules
Lawmakers on Friday pressed the Inter-Agency Council Against Trafficking (Iacat) to junk its new departure guidelines and sit down with migrant workers’ groups to create a policy that “prioritizes the protection of individuals’ rights and addresses root causes of human trafficking.”
Although lawmakers welcomed the Department of Justice’s (DOJ) deferment of the travel rules’ effectivity, they said the Iacat should not stop at just postponing its implementation.
House constitutional amendments panel chair Rep. Rufus Rodriguez urged Justice Secretary Jesus Crispin Remulla “to scrap the stricter travel rules, instead of just delaying its enforcement.”
“I am sure Secretary Remulla, who is a good lawyer, knows the implications of the additional regulations on the right to travel and the right to privacy,” he said in a statement.
House Deputy Minority Leader Rep. France Castro of the Makabayan bloc agreed, as she called on the Iacat “to reconsider the proposed travel guidelines and engage in a genuine dialogue with the stakeholders involved.”
Castro said there should be a “comprehensive review that prioritizes the protection of individuals’ rights and addresses the root causes of human trafficking.”
“We cannot afford to implement policies that may inadvertently harm our fellow Filipinos. Let us work together toward the development of effective and rights-based measures in preventing human trafficking,” Castro said.
She suggested that the Iacat include stakeholders such as migrant workers’ rights groups and travelers in its thorough review of the departure guidelines.
She said this “will ensure that the guidelines are fair, just and protective of individuals’ rights.”
“We need to prioritize the protection and welfare of our fellow Filipinos, especially those who work overseas to support their families. Any policy or guideline that undermines their rights and freedoms is unacceptable,” Castro added.
Rodriguez and Castro made the remarks after the DOJ suspended the implementation of the departure guidelines “to address the importance of transparency and public consultation.”
Last week, the Iacat drew flak for the stricter travel rules, which Rodriguez said violate a person’s right to travel and right to privacy.
The departure guidelines stated that the Bureau of Immigration may require additional supporting documents from Filipino travelers, such as proof of accommodation, proof of financial capacity or employment, documents proving one’s relationship to the sponsor of the trip and the sponsor’s proof of employment, etc.