DOJ vows to deal with BI officers who abuse ’departure formalities’

The Department of Justice (DOJ) assured that immigration officers who abuse “departure formalities” that leads to passengers missing or re-booking their flights “will be appropriately and strictly dealt with.”

In a statement, the DOJ said “the implementation of departure formalities by the Bureau of Immigration (BI) is pursuant to its legal mandate as an integral member of the IACAT (Inter-Agency Council Against Trafficking).”

“As such, their functions include administering and enforcing anti-trafficking, immigration, and related laws to better protect Filipinos from human trafficking and other dangers,” it said.

The DOJ issued the statement following the viral Tiktok video of Filipina Cham who ranted that on Dec. 22, 2022 she missed her flight to Israel due to the unnecessary questioning she underwent before an immigration officer at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA).

The BI had issued an apology and had relieved the immigration officer involved.  But the bureau said it will not pay the woman for her re-booking.

“Rest assured, the abusive behavior which goes beyond the mandate of the officers will not be tolerated and will be appropriately and strictly dealt with,” the DOJ said.

It said that the BI “has taken the necessary steps to investigate any excessive or inappropriate behavior of some immigration officers in the course of implementing the departure formalities.”

It also said that “IACAT is in the process of revising the departure formalities to better reflect current trends and plug the gaps that arose along the way.”

The implementation of departure formalities is mandated by Republic Act No. 9208, the Anti-Trafficking in Persons Act of 2003, and RA 8042, the Migrant Workers and Overseas Filipinos Act of 1995 as amended by RA 10022.

For tourist travelers, immigration officers require the presentation of passport, visa (when required), and roundtrip ticket.

Secondary inspection is required “when deemed necessary, for the purpose of protecting vulnerable victims of human trafficking and illegal recruitment and other related offenses.”  A traveler will be asked his or her age, educational attainment, and financial capability to travel.

If not financially capable to travel, immigration officers will ask the authenticated affidavit of support which indicates the relationship within the 4th civil degree of consanguinity or affinity and the supporting documents.