By Jerome Aning
Philippine Daily Inquirer
Posted date: September 15, 2008
MANILA, Philippines—The Bureau of Immigration has set up what it calls its “last line of defense” against the trafficking of overseas Filipino workers.
Immigration Commissioner Marcelino Libanan, in a statement, said the bureau’s agents stationed at airports and sea ports, who have little or no evidence to detain suspected “tourist-workers,” would instead brief them on the hazards faced by undocumented workers in foreign countries.
“We call them tourist-workers because they are not leaving the country for pleasure but to work without proper documents,” Libanan said.
“[Suspected illegal workers] will also be asked to sign a waiver, releasing from any responsibility the immigration officer who will process their exit papers after the briefing‚” he said, adding that illegal OFWs have “zero knowledge” of the risks involved in working in foreign countries without proper papers.
Waivers will only be required when the traveler’s purpose of travel is in doubt.
Several factors will be considered in profiling suspected “tourist-workers,” such as the absence of a hotel booking, zero funds, the lack of Philippine Overseas Employment Administration clearance and, if accompanied by a foreigner, who might be the employer.
“We are hoping the briefing-and-waiver tack will discourage tourist-workers from taking unnecessary risks overseas,” Libanan said.