The Philippine Consulate General wishes to inform the Filipino community in Hong Kong that, in pursuit of its mandate to primarily detect, monitor and investigate cases of trafficking in persons occurring at the international airports and seaports within the Philippine jurisdiction, as provided for by RA 9208 titled “the Anti-Trafficking in Persons Act of 2003”, the Bureau of Immigration (BI) is enforcing strict departure formalities for outbound Filipino travelers.
In its Memorandum Circular No. RPL-10-004 dated 09 August 2010, the Bureau of Immigration may regulate the individual right to travel whenever there is a reasonable detection of a trafficking situation by immigration officers and personnel. For brevity and clarity, a detected Filipino international traveler shall be disallowed to depart on either of the following categories: 1) undocumented 2) improperly documented 3) incompletely documented.
To determine whether a trafficking situation is occurring, Filipino travelers intending to go to a foreign country with temporary visitor/tourist visas are assessed by the immigration officer on the totality of their circumstances, including their personal capacity to travel, such as appearance, demeanor, current employment, financial capability, etc., at the time they present themselves for departure formalities.
In cases where the travel is not shouldered in the traveler’s personal capacity, it is usually claimed that it is shouldered by another person. If the visa indicates that there is a sponsor, the relationship or reason for the sponsorship is assessed. If it is readily ascertainable that the sponsor is a relative and it is shown that the sponsor is at the place of destination, the next matter to be assessed is the capacity of the sponsor (e.g., work or employment in the place of destination).
Many Filipino travelers who cannot show either their personal capacity or that of their sponsor to shoulder the costs of the trip often present an authenticated affidavit of support and/or guarantee by their sponsoring relative or friend who are residing or working in the country they are traveling to. The affidavit of support is not necessarily a requirement of the Bureau of Immigration and does not guarantee being cleared for departure because it still has to be assessed by the immigration officer.
In light of these developments, the Philippine Consulate General encourages the Filipino community in Hong Kong to properly advise relatives and friends who want to visit them here of the Bureau of Immigration’s departure regulations and undertake the necessary preparations to avoid undue inconvenience.