Thursday, July 26, 2012

OFF-LOADING OF FILIPINO TRAVELERS: Is it fair or discriminating?

Date: July 26, 2012
Time: 9:57 PM
Location: City tower 2, Al Barsha, Dubai UAE

A total of 521 passengers were offloaded or not allowed to leave the country in 2011 because of falsified travel documents, according to a report from the Inter-Agency Council Against Trafficking (IACAT) NAIA Task Force Against Trafficking in Persons. The report showed that 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 people who attempt to travel for the purpose of gaining employment abroad without proper documentation and those people who attempt to go to countries where the Philippines currently has a deployment or travel ban, or those who provide spurious travel documents. (Divina, 2012) (If you would like to read the rest of the article just go to http://www.ofwngayon.com/2012/01/521-passengers-offloaded-naia-2011/)

Before I went here to Dubai, isa sa mga problemang iniisip ko is the PHILIPPINE IMMIGRATION. Sila yung mga Immigration Officers na kailangan mong daanan before you could board into the plane. Ang tanong, bakit sila naging problema sa akin or sa kahit sinong nagbabalak umalis ng bansa? ANSWER: Kasi meron silang kakayahan na pigilan kang umalis. Pwede ka nilang pigilan umalis kahit na nakapagbayad ka na ng malaking pera sa visa at plane tickets mo. Bakit? Hindi ko din alam. Sila lang ang nakaka-alam.

Philippine Immigration (Source: google.com
Bakit nga ba napaka-higpit nitong mga Immigration Officers sa Philippines? According to what I've read, since 2011, strict departure formalities have been imposed. All travelers are required to undergo what they called 'primary inspection' wherein a passenger should present a valid passport, required visa and a round-trip ticket.

For tourists, inspection thing doesn't just end there. After the primary inspection, the Bureau of Immigration (BI) is authorized to do a secondary inspection. According to the article made by Ruiz (2012) from the Manila Bulletin website, the secondary inspection was made "for the purpose of protecting vulnerable victims of human trafficking and illegal recruitment and other related offenses". The assessment will take into consideration age; educational attainment, and financial capability to travel. (If you want to read the rest of the article, just go to http://www.mb.com.ph/node/349903/new-guide).

Its the discretion of the Immigration Officers (IO) if they would allow you to go out of the country or not. The question is, bakit meron pa ring mga passengers despite having complete or should I say enough documents to show, hindi pa rin sila pinapayagang umalis?

I came across different forums in the internet and I got the chance to read different cases of people being offloaded. Most of them were on visit/tourist visas. They were offloaded because there were insufficiency with their documents. Pero ano nga ba ang mga dapat dalhin na mga documents pag haharap ka na sa immigration?

According to Grace (2011) from her blog post about "Unjustified 'offloading of Filipino travelers", Despite having proper documents, Filipino still face problems at the immigration desks while exiting the country. The proper documents would include passport, visa to enter Dubai and that Affidavit of Support (a new document imposed last September 2010 by the Philippine Government supposedly to curb human trafficking but has been subjected to a lot of abuse and seen only as new money making scheme) authenticated at the Philippine Consulate in Dubai and Air tickets. But horror stories have surfaced how people are bullied into answering ridiculous questions like proving his/her relation with the sponsoring relative in Dubai (which have been proven during the notarization of the Affidavit), show money (cash on hand), ATM cards, Credit cards, certificate of employment in the Philippines, etc. 


I don't know if it was just my lucky day that day when I had my encounter with the immigration at NAIA Terminal 1. Iniisip ko nga nun mamimili ako ng babae na immigration officer (IO) baka mas mababait sila. Yun pala, pag dating dun, isa lang yung pila, tapos depende kung sinong officer yung unang mabakante, dun ka pupunta. Yung balak kong mamili at mapunta sa babae, hindi nagkatotoo dahil sa lalaking immigration officer ako napunta. Siya yung tipong pilosopong immigration officer na tipong huhulihin ka talaga.

Turn ko na nun na pumunta sa kanya, malayo pa lang, tinignan niya na kung ano yung suot kong damit, kung ano yung itsura ko. (sorry kuya, prepared ako, I was just wearing shorts, polo shirt na black, jacket and a running shoes that time, para mukang turista) when I stepped into his counter, binigay ko na agad yung Passport, Tourist visa, at yung card na maliit, Embarkation card yata yung tawag dun.

Immigration Officer (IO): Sino pupuntahan mo sa Dubai?
ME: My cousin, sir. (pinilit ko talagang mag-english para sosyal, haha!)
IO: First, Second or Third?
ME: First cousin, Sir.
IO: Ahh, sige punta ka muna doon sa secondary inspection ha, kapag pinayagan ka nilang umalis, balik ka dito sa akin.
ME: (at first naisip ko, ay shit! na hold ako, pero sinabi ko na lang..) Okay, sir.
IO: Nag-wowork ka ba dito?
ME: Yes Sir. I am working full-time as a Sales officer sa _____Corporation. and I am working as a part-time Market Researcher in ____. (That time, I came prepared, may dala akong Company IDs, Leave of absence, at Employment Certificates, pero ang hiningi lang yung Company IDs)
IO: (Tinignan nya lang saglit yung mga Company IDs, tapos sabi..) Pwede yun sa inyo? Dalawa trabaho?
ME: Yes, sir. (Pero sa isip ko, Obviously SIR!)
IO: (may ginawa lang sya saglit dun sa mga papers ko, hindi ko alam kung ano, tapos sabi..) Sige, okay ka na.
ME: Where should I go next, Sir? (nalito ako kasi sabi niya for secondary inspection daw ako)
IO: Dun ka na sa gate.
ME: (pagtingin ko ng passport ko, may tatak na.) THANK YOU SIR. (sabay alis)

Though thankful ako, hindi din naman ako nagulat na makakalagpas ako sa immigration kasi first time ko lang umalis ng country. Malinis pa ang passport ko. Prepared din akong humarap sa kanila. Lahat ng possible na documents na hingin nila sa akin, meron ako. Valid passport, Tourist visa, Roundtrip tickets, Affidavit of support, Birth certificate ko at ng sponsor ko, OEC ng sponsor ko, Copy of passport at visa ng sponsor ko, Company IDs, Leave of Absence, Employment Certificates, pocket money, at ultimo pictures na magkasama kami ng sponsor ko, meron ako.

Ngayon, nandito na ako sa Dubai for more than a month na, nakahanap na rin ako ng work at naghihintay ng visa. Wala naman akong balak takbuhan ang gobyerno natin sa pilipinas, mag paparegister pa din ako sa POEA/OWWA dito. Magiging documented overseas Filipino worker pa din naman ako. Hindi naman masamang pumunta ka at mag-apply ng work sa ibang bansa with a visit/tourist visa. Katulad dito sa Dubai, they allow it. Pag na hire ka, magiging working/employment visa yung visa mo. The thing is, kailangan mo ding isipin kung saan ang nanggaling at magparegister ka ng  maayos as a documented OFW. Yes, magbabayad ka ng taxes and all, pero its the law, you have to abide by the laws.

Dito ko naintindihan kung bakit ginagawa ng immigration yung ginagawa nila doon sa airport. Dito lang sa Dubai, napaka-daming Filipina na prostitute. I don't know if may visa sila (but I doubt, wala namang kumpanya ang gagawa ng visa for prostitutes) pero madami sila. Nagkalat. Hindi ko din masisisi ang gobyerno kung bakit nila ginagawa na mag-higpit sa airport at in-offload ang mga passengers na sa tingin nila eh magiging prostitutes lang sa ibang bansa.

Ang hindi ko lang naman mainitindihan, bakit sinasabi ng ibang mga tao sa mga forums na meron daw mga immigration officers na humihingi or tumatanggap ng 'suhol' para lang mapa-alis nila yung mga passengers. Pati tuloy yung mga tao na balak humanap ng matinong trabaho abroad eh naaapektuhan din. Sana gumawa pa yung gobyerno ng Pilipinas ng mas maayos na paraan para sa mga ganitong cases. After nilang magbayad for their visas, passports, plane tickets na hindi biro ang presyo (dito lang sa Dubai, it would costs 3000+ dhs. kulang kulang 40000 pesos) tyaka palang nila malalaman na hindi pala sila papayagan umalis or worse, susuhulan pa nila ang mga immigration officers ng malaking pera din para lang maka-alis. I'm not holding any facts here, I am just basing my judgments  sa mga nababasa ko sa mga forums and I don't think 'people' wouldn't create such things na hindi naman talaga nila na-experience, so, I guess, meron nga. totoo nga.

Hindi ko masisisi ang gobyerno for implementing rules like these kasi ang iniisip lang naman nila eh yung protection or yung safety ng mga Filipinos all over the world. Kung baga ang gusto lang naman nila eh maging documented lahat para kung sakaling may mangyaring masama, eh may record sila. Meron kasing mga tao na nag settle nalang sa pagiging undocumented, walang record sa POEA para hindi na magbayad ng taxes or kung anu-ano mang fee. Hindi din naman natin sila pwedeng masisi, kahit mali, gusto lang naman nilang mag kumita. Pero sana magawan nila ng paraan yung mga nagpapabayad na immigration officers. Sana isipin nila yung mga taong gumastos ng malaki para lang makapagtrabaho sila sa ibang bansa for their families.

Para naman sa mga taong balak lang maging prostitutes, undocumented workers at mag cause ng human trafficking, wag kayo magalit kung ma-offload kayo. Kayo nga ang dahilan kung bakit nag-higpit ang government natin ng ganito. Mas mabuti pa ngang na-offload kayo at least hindi kayo napahamak sa mga balak niyong gawin na masama sa ibang bansa. Think about it.

Kung noon ko sasagutin ang tanong kung fair or discriminating ba ang pag-offload ng mga passengers, I would answer its discriminating, no doubt. But seeing Filipinos here doing such acts na hindi na maganda, sila ang dahilan kung bakit napaka-baba ng tingin ng mga ibang lahi I'm sure hindi lang dito sa Dubai pati na rin sa ibang bansa. I think its just fair. Depende nalang sa tao. Maayos ang law na ipinasa ng Gobyerno natin sa Pilipinas. Depende na lang yan kung papaano ii-implement ng mga Immigration Officers, kung magpapa-suhol ba sila or not, depende rin kung papaano titignan ng mga taong maapektuhan ng mga laws na ganito.

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MY TIPS FOR THOSE PEOPLE WHO WILL BE HAVING AN ENCOUNTER WITH THE PHILIPPINE IMMIGRATION:
1. If you are on a tourist visa, dress up like a real turista. (Wearing shorts is not prohibited in the airport, in fact, it could help you look more convincing)
2. Bring all the documents needed, when I say all, think of ALL the documents that an immigration officer could ask for (especially the filipino immigration na napakadaming hinihingi kahit wala namang connection)
***Valid passport, Visa and Roundtrip ticket (they will surely ask for a roundtrip ticket in case you are on a tourist visa)
***Company IDs, Leave of absence and Employment Certificates --- Just in case they will ask for all, in my case, they just asked for my Company IDs.
***Birth Certificate of you and your sponsor (to prove your relationship with your sponsor)
***Copy of the passport and OEC of your sponsor (just an additional documents)
***Photos of you and your sponsor together (I brought one during my time but they didn't ask for it)
3. When approaching them, don't be nervous. (Paglapit mo pa lang, titignan ka na nyang mga yan)
4. Answer their question STRAIGHT TO THE POINT. If you just need to answer YES OR NO, just say YES OR NO. No need for further explanations.
5. IF YOU KNOW IN YOURSELF THAT YOU ARE RIGHT, DON'T HESITATE TO REASON OUT. (In a good way of course) HUWAG KANG PUMAYAG MA-OFFLOAD KUNG SA TINGIN MO HINDI KA NAMAN DAPAT MA-OFFLOAD.

If you have comments or violent reactions about my post, don't hesitate to write on the comment box just below this post. Thank you! :)


References:

Divina. (January 16, 2012). "521 passengers 'off-loaded' at NAIA in 2011".  http://www.ofwngayon.com/2012/01/521-passengers-offloaded-naia-2011/ 7/27/2012 1:55 PM

Ruiz, J.B. (January 31, 2012). "New Guides for Off-loading Passengers", Retrieved from http://www.mb.com.ph/node/349903/new-guide 07/27/2012 12:53 PM

Grace, (October 17, 2011). "Unjustified 'offloading' of Filipino travelers", Retrieved from http://sandierpastures.com/dubai/expat-life/unjustified-offloading-of-filipino-travelers.html 07/27/2012 3:20 PM

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Bringing back 'My Life After Coffee'

Date: July 25, 2012
Time: 3:05 PM
Location: City Tower 2, Al Barsha, Dubai UAE

Good afternoon! Out of boredom I decided to bring back my old blog name 'My Life After Coffee'. I just thought that its more cool than the previous one. No important reasons at all. haha. I would like to thank all my readers na bumabalik kahit puro tungkol naman sa akin tong mga pinopost ko. 

This photo was taken during my first week here in Dubai, thats in Jumeirah Beach Residence here in Dubai Marina, Dubai UAE. There are lots of beautiful places here in Dubai. I will post all my turista moments here soon! Thank you!






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