Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Migration and Freedom 9: Immigration bureaucracy

Last July 6, Atty. Gregorio "Goyo" Larrazabal (@GoYoLarrazabal), a former COMELEC Commissioner, tweeted the following:

Did I hear it right that immigration officials will start profiling OUTGOING Filipinos, presumably to help curb human trafficking? And the immigration official may prevent the Filipino traveller from leaving the Philippines.

The point is d prevention of free movement. So if d immigration does't like ur answer and prevents you from flying what do YOU do?

A few minutes before I saw his tweet, I also saw this from philoquotes' tweet:
Free people, remember this maxim: we may acquire liberty, but it is never recovered if it is once lost. ~ Rousseau

I replied to Atty. Goyo that most government agencies can actually profile us citizens anytime they want to because they centralize many information about us -- the SSS, LTO, BIR, DFA, etc. That there is danger when government bureaucrats will use their power of prohibition, like prohibiting us from travelling, etc. And that government bureaucracies' profiling of citizens is idiotic and unfair if they themselves are not transparent. I went to the Bureau of Immigration website, there are no names or pictures of officials and other personnel. It is sort of a secret club with a website because it has to have one.

I also saw this report, Philippine Justice Secretary Sacked 18 Bureau of Immigration Personnel

Meanwhile, I have a friend who is going as a UN volunteer in one of the poorer countries in Asia. I asked him why he has not flown yet, he said that he and his batch of other Filipino volunteers are still waiting for the go-signal of the Bureau of Immigration.

I asked further why the Philippines' immigration office will hold them and not the immigration office of their destination country. The latter will decide if they are good and desirable aliens.

It turns out that BI made a wholesale suspicion of volunteers going abroad. BI caught 1 (or more?) Filipina/s who was posing as nun and UN volunteer, gave questionable papers, and BI presumed that many volunteers are now part of the human trafficking racket, even including UN Volunteers.

My friend said that some of his fellow UN volunteers were already about to board a plane, then they were prevented by the BI, not once but twice. They have to unload their baggage from the plane, got out of the departure lounge in embarrassment, and the flight of the remaining passengers was delayed.

Since those were legitimate UN volunteers, did the BI give an apology, or reimburse their unused plane ticket? I heard that BI gave neither. The organization/s that finance the trip of those Filipino volunteers has to spend extra for the flight re-booking of the volunteers.

There is a supposed memorandum of agreement (MOA) among BI, NEDA and the Philippine National Volunteer Service Agency (PNVSA) after that fake nun incident. But as of this week, the MOA has not been signed yet as the BI Chair is on leave.

The fake nun incident and the "profiling of outgoing Filipinos" that Atty. Goyo mentioned above could be related. It is a dangerous risk if BI personnel will prevent someone with legitimate trip abroad to be prevented from flying because of mere suspicion of something.

BI or other government agencies that will cause such unpleasant and unnecessary prevention of flying should get some penalty if their "intelligence" is wrong. Like suspending or sacking a whole team of officials who made the false accusation.

See also Migration and Freedom 7: Restrictions to OFWs, April 13, 2011


Anonymous said...

"In the future, criminals are caught before the crimes they commit, (2054 A.D.), crime is virtually eliminated thanks to an elite law enforcing squad 'Precrime'. They use three gifted humans (called 'Pre-Cogs') with special powers to see into the future and predict crimes beforehand." This is the proposition of the movie 'The Minority Report' starred by Tom Cruise.

This is what the Bureau of Immigration is exactly doing, preventing human trafficking by denying Filipinos' right to travel should they bear 'tourist visa' & not a working visa in their passport.

This is unconstitutional as the Constitution, Art. III, Sec. 6 states that, "The liberty of abode and of changing the same within the limits prescribed by law shall not be impaired except upon lawful order of the court. Neither shall the right to travel be impaired except in the interest of national security, public safety, or public health, as may be provided by law."

There is also a body international instruments that makes this right universal, "(2) Everyone has the right to leave any country, including his own, and to return to his country (Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights)".

Our citizens are voting with their feet, why deny them that right if they do not feel comfortable living in this country any more. By all means, let them go & allow them to seek their fortunes elsewhere, where they can find a government that best serve their interest.

Bienvenido Oplas Jr said...

True. I actually advocate the abolition of visa system. People will just need a passport as their "national ID". Only those with criminal cases, pending or unserved, will be prevented from traveling.

Anonymous said...

Ignorance is still bliss for the Philippines’ Bureau of Immigration as far as the fundamental, constitutional rights of Filipinos, including people with disabilities, are concerned, which we could clearly see in its mistreatment of Franklin Galano Corpuz.

After Qatar Airways allowed him to check in on October 4 at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport, the BI — yes, that’s shorthand both for this agency and for the phrase “bad influence” — told Corpuz that he cannot leave the Philippines because he was “deaf and therefore cannot speak”. He was then asked to leave the airport.

The BI refused to allow Corpuz to leave the country for his flight to Qatar despite his presentation of his valid Philippine passport that is stamped with a visa from the interior ministry of Qatars. He also came with an affidavit of support from Al Mana Interiors and an invitation letter for a business training for persons with disabilities which he is supposed to attend.

Oddly, the BI office at the NAIA would later claim that Corpuz was denied permission to leave because in its assessment, Corpuz had “no sufficient proof that his trip is for business to Qatar considering that he is deaf and mute.” (But the blasted agency did not state what other documents, if any, Corpuz needed to present. An implication may be that he cannot forever leave until he satisfies the whims and caprices of BI officers about “sufficient proof”.)

The irony of ironies: A Qatari business invited Corpuz to a training tailor-fit for PWDs like him, for which the Qatari government granted him a visa and the Qatari Airways allowed him to book a ticket and to check in for his flight — but our own government refused to honor his fundamental right to travel.

The official reason cited by the BI at the NAIA was/is unacceptable under our laws. Corpuz fulfilled all the legal requirements to travel.

This is an insult the community of persons with disabilities, their supporters and right-thinking citizens should not take lightly. Sunshine Supermarket and Hotel Veniz in Baguio City, which have employed Corpuz should not take this lightly. People he has served as a professional driver should not take this lightly. His friends and family, including his wife Philippine Federation for the Deaf president Raquel Corpuz, should not take this lightly.

But more than an insult, this is a gross violation of the fundamental, constitutional right to travel and a clear discriminatory action against a person with disability. The BI should respect and uphold the spirit and letter of the Constitution and Republic Acts 7277 and 9442, as well as the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

If you feel for Corpuz and would like to help him to compel the BI to recognize and honor his fundamental, constitutional rights, the De La Salle College of St. Benilde School of the Deaf and Applied Studies urges you to send letters of protest to Attorney Ronaldo Ledesma, the officer in charge of the BI, through telefax number (+632)5273276 and to the Department of Justice-Action Center via email addresses dojac@doj.gov.ph and soj@doj.gov.ph.

Feel free to forward this article so other people may know and hopefully take action.

From Tonyo Cruz Oct 06, 2010 3:15PM UTC (http://asiancorrespondent.com/41174/deaf-filipino-illegally-refused-by-immigration-officers-in-manila-international-airport/)

Anonymous said...

OFW ‘exit permits’: unconstitutional?
By: Rigoberto Tiglao
Philippine Daily Inquirer
12:12 am | Thursday, July 14th, 2011