Senators Grace Poe and Raffy Tulfo were quick to respond to a plea from certain netizens for a senate investigation into some horror stories posted online as a result of “ridiculous” requirements imposed on Filipino tourists by immigration officers.
Poe recounted the experience of fashion stylist and freelancer Cham Tanteras, who got offloaded on her trip to Israel in December, before a Senate Blue Ribbon Committee hearing on Monday, March 20.
“Meron tayong mga overly enthusiastic immigration officers na kung anu-ano yung mga tinatanong, anu-ano yung mga dokumentong hinihingi. Ewan ko kung yung immigration officer na yun, napagtripan lang yung isang pasahero kaya hiningan ng yearbook o graduation photos. Ridiculous,” she said.
“We’re trying to avoid human trafficking but this is obviously frivolous,” she added.
Tulfo also slammed immigration authorities, implying different standards in dealing with foreign nationals and accused corruption.
“At noong hindi makapag produce ang mga kabayan natin ng mga hinihinging dokumento, pinahiya at in-offload. Samantalang pag foreign nationals, walang screening na nagaganap, ini-eskortan pa papasok ng eroplano,” he said.
“Bakit? Dahil itong mga foreign nationals may pera, may panlagay, at itong mga pobre nating kababayan na taxpayers na nagpapasweldo sa ating mga taga gobyerno haharangin, at papahiyain, at hindi papasakayin sa eroplano?” he added.
Poe swore to investigate into the situation in order to put an end to the “horror” stories told by local and foreign visitors.
“Kailangan may dalang yearbook o graduation pic sa immigration kapag aalis ng bansa? Parang may mali naman diyan. Tama na ang mga IO horror stories na naririnig natin,” Poe said on Facebook.
“Maraming mga isyu ang kinakaharap ng NAIA, dagdag pa diyan ang Bureau of Immigration dahil sa mahahabang pila at mga #IOHorrorStories ng offloading,” she also said
The concerned immigration officer was previously relieved and sent to a “back office” post by the Bureau of Immigration (BI).
Poe also shared the steps being undertaken by BI to improve their services.
“Nangako ang pamunuan ng BI na dadagdagan nila ang mga immigration officer na naka duty lalo na sa darating na Holy Week. Bukod diyan ay magsasagawa rin sila ng karagdagang training upang mas maayos pa nilang magawa ang kanilang tungkulin,” the senator noted.