Bureau of Immigration (BI) Commissioner Norman Tansingco slammed misinformation on social media.
In a statement, Tansingco denounced several videos circulating on Tiktok, encouraging Filipinos to seek employment abroad as tourists, citing their right to travel.
“These videos spread misinformation that might cause aspiring workers to be illegally recruited or trafficked,” said Tansingco.
He shared that in many cases, victims attempt to travel abroad as tourists, in the belief that it would allow them to work abroad without any problems.
“Tiktok videos without proper context may cause confusion to the public,” said Tansingco. “Apart from being part of the IACAT, it is the role of the BI to ensure that departing Filipinos are properly documented, based on their actual purpose of travel,” he added.
The Inter-Agency Council Against Trafficking is a consortium of different government agencies tasked to combat trafficking and illegal recruitment, in which the BI is a part of as its last line of defense.
Tansingco shared that the role of the BI against trafficking was given a nod by the Supreme Court, after being cited in a 2011 decision in a case against a court employee who failed to secure an authority to travel.
In one viral video posted by a legal practitioner, travelers were reminded that basic requirements for travel are their passports, visas if needed, and round trip ticket. However, the Tiktoker clarified that if there are inconsistencies found, then secondary documents may be required.
This is indicated on the Memorandum Circular No. 036 of the Department of Justice on the IACAT guidelines on departure formalities for international-bound passengers.
MC No. 036 also cites that clarificatory questions may be propounded by the IO in relation to the purpose of travel of the passengers.
Tansingco further warned that traffickers can face a maximum jail time of 40 years. “Those who abuse social media to recruit and traffic Filipinos are being monitored already by local law enforcement agencies. The IACAT is very active in arresting and prosecuting recruiters, so your days are numbered,” he warned.
CATHERINE R. CUETO