Press Release
March 21, 2023


SENATOR Ramon Bong Revilla, Jr. today blasted the Bureau of Immigration (BI) after it released a statement on the viral offloading incident at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA).

In a now viral video that surfaced on social media, a Filipino passenger intending to travel to Israel ranted her experience in the hands of an Immigration Officer (IO) in detail, especially 'irrelevant' queries about her to the extent of demanding from her to produce her school yearbook. This caused the traveler to miss her flight despite being at the airport several hours before the scheduled time of departure. Worse, the traveler had to shell out an additional sum of money to cover rebooking expenses.

According to Revilla, his office has received numerous concerns and complaints about the prevalence of arbitrary offloading at NAIA, and was in the process of investigating the matter when the issue blew up. "Tinitingnan na namin ito since last year, at eto at pumutok na. Mismong kaibigan ni Congressman Bryan Revilla na papasyal lang sa Singapore twice inoffload despite our correspondence with BI," he shared. "Ang katwiran ng BI, iba raw yung nasa legal at head office nila sa mga nasa airport. Wala daw silang control sa mga nasa airport. Tama ba 'yun?," he asked.

Revilla criticized the BI's existing offloading practices saying that while the spirit behind it may be noble, the results speak for itself. "Sa pagkakataong ito, it looks like the solution being implemented is worse than the problem," the solon said.

According to the BI, of the 32,404 Filipinos offloaded in 2022, only 472 were related to human trafficking, 873 allegedly misrepresented themselves, while 10 were minors.

"Sa lagpas 30,000 na inoffload at inabala ng immigration na yan, wala pang 4.2% niyan ang may semblance of basis. Mas nakakagalit, only 1.45% ang sinasabi nilang connected sa Human Trafficking," Revilla pointed out. "Over 95% talagang inabala at pinagastos lang. Ibig sabihin, isa lang sa bawat dalawampung inoffload nila ang medyo may basis. 'Di ba kalokohan 'yan?," the lawmaker stressed. "Sobrang daming naabala. Sobrang daming nasayang na oras at pera. This really says something about the accuracy and efficiency of their [Bureau of Immigration] performance."

"Anong nangyayayari sa Bureau of Immigration? Nakakahiya! Hindi ganyang klase ng serbisyo publiko ang dapat natatanggap ng mga tao. Ngayon kasi, para bang all Filipinos are human traffickers unless proven otherwise! Bakit niyo hahanapan ng yearbook? Bakit niyo hahanapan ng graduation photo? Hindi ko maisip para saan. Our people deserve to be treated better, if not fairly. Kaya kung hindi niyo matutuwid iyang di matapos-tapos na kalokohan niyo, mag-resign na lang kayo!", Revilla said in disappointment.

The senator believes that the BI practice is a brazen disregard of the constitutionally guaranteed right to travel, explaining that it may even be an outright transgression on the power of the Courts to issue Hold Departure Orders (HDO) upon cause. "Parang daig pa nila ang korte. Napaka-absurd yata na yung nakagawa ng krimen, basta't walang HDO makakaalis, pero yung mga ordinaryong Pilipino na gusto lang makaranas ng bakasyon sa ibang bansa, basta-basta lang iniipit at hindi pinaaalis. Over-stepping na yan," he added.

The practice of offloading continues despite existing rules laid down by the Department of Justice' Memorandum Circular No. 036, s. 2015 that promulgated revised guidelines on Departure Formalities for International-Bound Passengers. The circular provides that only when a tourist passenger is identified by the immigration officer to have doubtful purpose of travel, fraudulent, falsified or tampered travel documents, or identified as a potentially trafficked person may he/she be not cleared for departure or recommended for deferred departure and turned over to the Travel Control and Enforcement Unit. The issuance also states that "[a]s much as practicable, secondary inspection shall not exceed 10 minutes unless extraordinary circumstances require a longer period of inspection".

"This is obviously being abused. Napakalaki ng latitude being given to these IOs. Sobrang broad ng authority at ng discretion. Daig pa nila mga consul sa pag-iissue ng visa," Revilla ended.

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