Press Release
August 29, 2023

With new IACAT travel guidelines
...says human judgment is prone to mistakes, produce false positives

Senator Nancy Binay today said the Inter-Agency Council Against Trafficking's (IACAT) should focus more on using technology to improve profiling instead of burdening travelers with taxing documents.

According to Binay, the new measures are very restrictive to travelers yet inconclusive in stopping human trafficking.

"Yung technology naririyan para safe, secured and convenient ang mga pasahero. Malaking tulong din ang technology to curb human trafficking. Kung kaduda-duda talaga ang background ng byahero at kasamang biktima--that's the time immigration people should do their jobs of cross-checking the info they have in their database and compare it to the claims of the person in question. Let's maximize the use of information technology to correctly profile travelers," she added.

Immigration officials use a combination of methods and criteria to determine travelers who may pose a security risk.

"We all know that visa applications are all scrutinized for accuracy and consistency. Kapag medyo kaduda-duda ang impormasyong nakalagay, expect an outright rejection of your application. Ang dapat sigurong higpitan yung mga babyahe papunta sa countries na walang visa at mataas ang human trafficking cases--in this case, cross referencing is necessary to check the background of a particular traveler," Binay said.

And since passengers already have the option to check-in online, the senator said the system can already be linked to a highly-secured database where red flags are forwarded to authorities for immediate attention.

"With the advancement of technology in airports and the integrated immigration watchlist of governments, analytics or 'risk scoring algorithms' can be an extra safeguard to assess high-risk individuals based on a combination of factors like travel behavioral patterns, etc that would warrant further investigation. And since inter-agency naman ang konsepto ng international law enforcement on human trafficking, dapat predictive analytics and facial recognition na ang profiling ng mga byahero," Binay pointed out.

IACAT said the purpose of requiring Filipino travelers to present notarized documents was to stop human trafficking.

"These additional documents are coercive, restrictive and redundant. I hope the DOJ and BI can station immigration officers who are well-trained to interpret data contextually and make informed decisions based on the info at hand. Of course, human judgment is prone to mistakes, that's why oversight is essential. Kaya dapat trained professional ang nasa frontlines to treat every traveler with respect and sensitivity, at magkaroon tayo ng mechanisms to address false positives to protect an individual's rights," Binay stressed.

The IACAT recently announced that in order to fight human trafficking, they have revised guidelines for Filipinos leaving the country, which would take effect by September 3.

In the latest guidelines, IACAT requires additional travel documents for self-funded travels like confirmed roundtrip ticket, proof of accommodation, financial capacity, purpose of travel, proof of employment, and other equivalent documents. And for sponsored travels, the agency requires original PSA-issued birth or marriage certificate, confirmed roundtrip tickets, and notarized copies of letter from sponsor, valid work visa/permit, etc.

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