Jinggoy Estrada urges gov’t: Fix airport, don’t crack down on Pinoy travelers

(POLITIKO) Senator Jinggoy Estrada has called for an investigation into the more stringent immigration requirements by the Inter-Agency Council Against Trafficking (IACAT) that would unduly burden outbound Filipino tourists.

In his resolution, Estrada said the IACAT’s revised guidelines to crack down on human trafficking may be a violation of the constitutional right to travel and freedom of movement.

“The right to travel is a constitutional right and possible restrictions on such right in the guise of stricter pre-departure guidelines which act as a watchlist against outbound Filipino travelers wanting to travel in the whims of Immigration officers may be illegal and should be thoroughly reviewed,” Estrada said in his Senate Resolution No. 771.

He scored the IACAT and the Bureau of Immigration (BI) for imposing more requirements and causing undue stress on Filipino travelers, when other countries are easing travel requirements to boost their tourism and help the sector recover from the pandemic.

“As the Philippine government bids to be an essential travel destination in the world because of its pristine waters and highly attractive tourist spots, what authorities should focus on are airport delays, long queues, and a dire lack of lack of employees in immigration counters —long-standing problems that have beset the airport pre-departure area for decades,” Estrada said.

Though the BI had promised a 45-second screening time per passenger, Estrada said long queues remain a problem in the country’s international airports for travelers, who are also made to present personal documents like yearbook pictures or bank statements.