At the Ninoy Aquino International Airport.


Philippines suspends implementation of revised departure rules for OFWs, Filipino travelers

The Philippine government has suspended the implementation of controversial departure rules for Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) and Filipinos traveling overseas.

The new departure rules, which require OFWs and Filipino travelers to present additional documentation for their overseas trip, were supposed to be enforced starting September 3. The implementation of the revised rules has now been suspended following calls from lawmakers.

The Department of Justice (DOJ), through the Inter-Agency Council Against Trafficking (IACAT), announced on Thursday (August 31) the suspension of the departure rules.

According to the DOJ, Secretary Jesus Crispin Remulla found it necessary to “thoroughly clarify the issues surrounding the revised guidelines to both the senators and the public” in light of recent concerns that they are an added burden to Filipino travelers.

The decision came a day after the Senate approved a resolution calling for the suspension of the departure rules. Senators also approved a separate resolution allowing the Senate president to file a petition before the Supreme Court, seeking a temporary restraining order against the amended rules.

According to the DOJ, the revised guidelines were “not intended to burden the general public” but to streamline departure procedures, which the IACAT said were also meant to combat human trafficking.

Senate President Juan Miguel Zubiri criticised the rules as “burdensome, costly, and may lead to discrimination and corruption.” He also warned of possible “economic profiling” where travelers may be unfairly judged based on what they wear and how they look.

Former Solicitor General Florin Hilbay questioned the revised departure requirements for Filipino travelers, calling it “an unconstitutional sleight of hand: from right to travel to permission to leave.” Hilbay said it may be used to harass OFWs and result in corruption and long queues at airports.

Hilbay said these may be used to harass migrant workers and critics of the government. He added that these may result not only in longer lines at airports but also corruption.

What were the new departure guidelines?

The suspended departure guidelines apply to self-funded Filipino travelers heading to another country, travelers sponsored by relatives and non-relatives, and OFWs.

If implemented, the new rules would have required OFWs to present an OFW clearance issued by the Department of Migrant Workers, along with supporting documents such as their work permit and employment contract.

Self-funded travelers would have also needed to show additional documents, such as proof of accommodation, proof of employment, and proof of their financial capacity or source of income.

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Meanwhile, travelers being sponsored by relatives and others would be required to present birth or marriage certificates that show the relationship between the passenger and sponsor, along with supporting documents and a notarized affidavit of support and guarantee.

For travelers sponsored by a non-relative or a juridical entity such as a company, they must also show a notarized affidavit of support and guarantee, as well as a document showing the relationship between the passenger and sponsor.

According to the DOJ on Thursday, the temporary suspension does not affect existing travel and immigration laws, which will remain in place until further notice. ICA/Expat Media

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