The Philippine embassy in Singapore lauded the Bureau of Immigration’s (BI) campaign against human trafficking that prevented the departure of thousands of undocumented overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) during the past weeks, many of them bound for the progressive city-state.
In a letter to Immigration Officer-In-Charge Ronaldo Ledesma, embassy charge d’ affaires Nathaniel Imperial said the BI’s recent screening procedures for departing Filipinos led to a big drop in the number of human trafficking victims reaching Singapore.
Imperial said Singapore, being a Freeport, is a regular destination and transshipment point of Filipinos who are victims of illegal recruiters and prostitution rings preying on young women.
“The Embassy appreciates this effort of the Bureau in countering the trafficking problem in the Philippines, especially since Singapore is a destination country of many trafficking victims,” the official said.
Imperial said that due to the BI’s intensified drive against human trafficking, the embassy now receives frequent queries from Filipinos in Singapore who wish to invite relatives and friends to visit them.
He asked the BI for specific guidelines as to when immigration officers at the airports may require affidavits and other proofs from travelling Filipinos who claim they were invited by relatives and friends abroad.
Lawyer Arvin Santos, BI airport operations division chief, said such affidavits must be authenticated by the Philippine embassy in Singapore, but stressed that such affidavit is not a guarantee that the invitee will be allowed to depart.
He said it is the discretion of the immigration officer to allow or disallow the departure of a passenger depending on the assessment during primary and secondary inspections.
Santos said there were past reports that affidavits were being forged by human trafficking syndicates to facilitate the departure of “tourist workers”, or would-be OFWs disguised as tourists.