1 November 2011
OFWs group bats for reasonable, fair, and extortion-free ‘offloading’ immigration guidelines
“What we want, OFWs and their dependents, is a set of immigration guidelines that is reasonable, fair, and extortion-free,” thus said today by Migrante-Middle East (M-ME) regional coordinator John Leonard Monterona.
Migrante’s Monterona is reacting on Vice President Jejomar Binay, also presidential adviser on OFWs concerns, statement quoting the latter on local news reports that the Inter-agency Council Against Trafficking (IACAT), which he serves as its chairman emeritus, is now reviewing the Bureau of Immigration’s (BI) absolute discretion in ‘offloading’ or preventing OFWs kin and dependents holding tourist visa.
Binay was on a side trip to the United Arab Emirates last Friday after his 2-day state visit in Saudi Arabia to represent Pres. Aquino and the Philippines to condole with the Royal families on the death of its Crown Prince who was laid to rest on Wednesday, Oct.26.
“We welcome the announcement by VP Binay that the IACAT has created a technical working group (TWG), which is now reviewing the BI’s absolute discretion in ‘offloading’ or preventing Filipinos holding visit visa leaving the country despite that they have with them all the necessary documents such as visit visa and an Affidavit of Support (AoS) declaration,” Monterona added.
Monterona suggested that the IACAT’s TWG must conduct consultation among OFWs groups and hear their views so that the ‘new guidelines’ that will be created is reasonable, fair, and above all will eventually put a stop on the rampant extortion activities allegedly committed by BI officials.
Monterona added that migrant workers and member of their families’ right to travel is guaranteed by the PH 1987 Constitution and other international instruments which the Philippines is a signatory and had ratified such as the International Convention on the Protection of all Migrant Workers and members of their Families.
“It’s a matter of upholding migrant right to travel while the PH govt. puts restrictions but only those necessary in matters of national security, public order, and public health,” Monterona averred.
Early this month, various OFWs groups spearheaded by the local chapters of Migrante and Gabriela in the UAE staged a campaign calling for the scrapping of the ‘Affidavit of Support’ requirement.
The AoS is a documentary requirement certifying that an OFW dependent who will be entering UAE holding a visit visa has the support of his or her OFW relative working in the host country.
Only the PH Consulate and embassy in the UAE is authorized to issue an AoS with a corresponding fee of 100 UAE dirhams (roughly equivalent to P1,200).
OFWs groups claimed that the continued arbitrary imposition of the AoS with a fee of 100 UAE dirham charged by the PH posts in the UAE betrays the Aquino administration’s policy thrusts.
“First, its fight against corruption; secondly, its efforts to bring ease to already over-burdened OFWs and their dependents; and third, it undermines the govt. campaign against illegal recruitment and human trafficking,” Monterona concluded. # # #
John Leonard Monterona
Migrante-Middle East regional coordinator