521 passengers ‘offloaded’ at NAIA in 2011

President Jejomar C. Binay has reiterated his call for Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) to go through the proper and legal channels in seeking employment abroad.

A report from Inter-Agency Council Against Trafficking (IACAT)-NAIA Task Force Against Trafficking in Persons said 521 passengers were not allowed to leave the country in 2011 because of spurious travel documents.

“I appeal to our kababayans to go through the required process in seeking employment abroad,” Binay said. “And if you do manage to leave the country, there is a very high risk that government will not be able to extend immediate assistance, especially in times of need,” he added.

Binay concurrently serves as the presidential adviser on OFW affairs, chairman emeritus of the Inter-Agency Council Against Trafficking and chair of the Presidential Task Force Against Illegal Recruitment.

At the same time, Binay said the IACAT is expected to receive the recommendations of the Technical Working Group tasked to formulate clear-cut guidelines for offloading to ensure transparency and to prevent abuse. “These guidelines are intended to minimize gray areas in terms of implementation,” he added.

According to the report, of the 521 passengers offloaded in 2011, 30 were classified as minors, 316 as Tourist Workers and 175 as OFWs with irregularities in their documents.

Tourist Workers are those who “attempt to travel for the purpose of gaining employment abroad without proper documentation, attempt to go to countries where the Philippines currently has a deployment or travel ban, or provide spurious travel documents,” the report said.

Binay further said that the government aims to elevate the Philippines to Tier 1 status in the US State Department’s Trafficking in Persons Report (TIP).

According to the TIP, “a Tier 1 ranking indicates that a government has acknowledged the existence of human trafficking, has made efforts to address the problem, and meets the Trafficking Victims Protection Act’s (TVPA) minimum standards.”

The country is currently at Tier 2 status, defined as “countries whose governments do not fully comply with the TVPA’s minimum standards but are making significant efforts to bring themselves into compliance with those standards.”#