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Saturday, October 2, 2010

New Queuing System in RP Airports Aims to Foil Human Smuggling

 A new queuing system at the immigration counters in the country’s airports will be implemented soon to prevent collusion between immigration personnel and human smuggling syndicates.

Bureau of Immigration (BI) officer-in-charge Ronaldo Ledesma said the new measure, dubbed the “S-Line” queuing system, would stop the practice of passengers picking their counters. This practice is suspected of being part of human smuggling rackets at the airport, Ledesma added.

A test run of the S-Line was conducted at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport Terminal I departure area last Wednesday night, and further tests were made on Thursday, Ledesma he said.

“The initial results are very encouraging. Our immigration officers have been very cooperative in the implementation of the new system, and we hope to adopt it in all our arrival and departure counters at the soonest possible time,” the BI chief said.

Ledesma had earlier ordered the relief and reassignment of some immigration officers on suspicion of collusion with human trafficking syndicates.

He said the syndicates have been operating by instructing victims which immigration counter they should line up for when leaving the country.

Immigration officers in these pre-selected counters are believed to be in cahoots with the syndicates and allow the passengers to leave despite suspicious travel papers.

According to him, the old system allows multiple straight lines in the airport immigration areas corresponding to the number of immigration counters, allowing passengers to select which counters to queue for.

The bureau’s airport operations division has coordinated with the NAIA operator, the Manila International Airport Authority, for adequate space for the S-Line system.

The BI is intensifying its campaign against human trafficking on orders of President Benigno Simeon C. Aquino III who earlier reiterated the Philippines’ commitment to the international campaign against human trafficking.

Ledesma removed thousands of passengers from airlines on suspicion of being “tourist workers” and victims of human trafficking in the past two months.

Tourist workers are Filipino travelers with tourist visas who intend to work after arriving in their destinations, making them vulnerable to abuse because of their illegitimate work status.

The Philippines has been placed by the US State Department in its Tier 2 human trafficking watch list. Should the country slide down to Tier 3, the US would withhold non-humanitarian aid of up to 0 million for the Philippines.

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