Press Release
August 28, 2023

Statement of Senator Risa Hontiveros on the DOJ's response to concerns regarding new international travel rules

Sana ay huwag natin balewalain ang hinaing ng mga pasahero na sa huli ay maaabala kung palpak ang ating international travel guidelines. The public's concerns with the revised international travel guidelines should not be waved off as mere "miscommunication."

The Inter-Agency Council Against Trafficking (IACAT) must take into consideration the various inputs from lawmakers, legal experts, and everyday Filipinos about the new pre-departure guidelines. We shouldn't turn a blind eye to warnings that some of the requirements would only promote delays and are prone to exploitation by corrupt immigration officers.

Kailangan nating pag-aralan mabuti kung paano maipapatupad ng maayos at praktikal ang mga kwestyonableng requirements. Are all first-time travelers required to present "proof of hotel booking or accommodation?" How can the requirement of "notarized Original Affidavit of Support and Guarantee" for sponsored travelers be complied with without unduly burdening such persons?

If these problematic requirements are not rectified, then the "45 second" processing time for travelers being promised by the Bureau of Immigration (BI) will become an empty promise. The 163 percent increase in budgetary allocation being requested by the BI will be of no use if flawed rules are allowed to fill the immigration process with delays and complaints from aggrieved travelers.

The Senate Committee on Public Services has been actively conducting hearings and receiving inputs from various stakeholders on the issue of airport delays and inefficiencies. I urge the IACAT to integrate the findings and recommendations of this committee - as well as earlier findings by the Senate Committee on Women, Children, Family Relations and Gender Equality hearings on human trafficking - before implementing any new international travel guidelines.

Human trafficking is a grave problem that demands urgent solutions, and I commend the IACAT's efforts to save lives and end human trafficking in the Philippines. However, insisting on dysfunctional guidelines will only derail our nation's anti-trafficking efforts. Imbes na ipagkibit-balikat, pakinggan natin ang hinaing ng ating travelers, at gamitin ito para palakasin ang ating mga polisiya.

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