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Friday, October 22, 2010

Philippine Immigration Officers getting more heavy handed - denying Filipinos and other nationalities their right to travel

A Brunei citizen yesterday added to the growing complaints of visa-carrying passengers bound for Brunei who were offloaded by Philippine immigration authorities for still unknown reasons.

Charge d'Affaires Celeste VinzonBalatbat said yesterday the Philippine Embassy, since last month, is still waiting for an explanation from the Philippine immigration authorities on the offloading issue.

Malai Hassan Othman, a former Borneo Bulletin journalist, said the professional consultant he hired, who was carrying a professional visa, a statutory declaration from the Brunei Magistrate, and an authenticated affidavit of support from the Philippine Embassy in Brunei, missed his flight twice.

"The Philippine immigration doesn't want to believe the Philippine government document and question the credibility of the Brunei government the Magistrates court documents," Malai Hassan Othman said.
"How am I going to recover my losses?

Who's going to pay for our inconvenience?

"I paid for his insurance so if anything happens to my professional consultant in Brunei, he is protected.

"I sought the help of the Philippine Embassy in Brunei.

The legal officer called up the Philippine Department of Immigration in Manila, but they don't seem to understand him.

"The Philippine immigration said they want to stop human trafficking to Brunei. I am going, through the hassle of getting legal documents.

Because of personal judgement and bias, my professional consultant was still offloaded, twice.

"I was told I can still invite my consultant on a social visit by getting a Filipino friend to invite him to Brunei.

Where is the rationale that they want to stop human trafficking?

"They don't seem to appreciate honesty in the Philippines.

"If you are honest, they believe you are lying.

"If you are lying they believe you are honest," Malawi Hassan said.

"There is no human trafficking in Brunei," said Atty Neil Brilliants of the Philippine Embassy Assistance to Nationals.

"Every Filipino has the right to travel.

The possession of authenticated affidavits of support, which costs $57.50, for travel purposes, is a requirement of the Department of Immigration, not the Philippine Embassy in Brunei," he said.

A Philippine Embassy consular staff said there has been a rise in applications for authenticated affidavits of supports since the coming of Cebu Pacific flights to Brunei last August 21.

Cebu Pacific said an average of five passengers are offloaded from its twice a week flights from Manila to Brunei.

Statistics, of Manila passengers bound for Kota Kinabalu, which has connecting flights via other airlines to fly to Brunei, are not immediately available.

Datin Juliana said her relative was denied travel to Brunei to celebrate the Hari Raya holidays despite a personal call by her husband, a high government official, to Philippine immigration authorities.

Even the authenticated document issued by the Philippine Embassy in Brunei was doubted as genuine by Philippine immigration, she said, prompting Consul General Raymond Balatbat to say, "The immigration authorities want us to authenticate our own signatures."

A prominent Brunei businessman said a Filipino staff he sponsored, carrying a Brunei visa, still had the passport of a relative working in Brunei faxed to the Manila airport before she was allowed to fly out. She had been denied to fly once.

"What if she has no relative in Brunei?

Why do the immigration authorities make it hard for Filipinos to get out of their country?

The mandate of the Philippine Department of Immigration is to keep undesirable aliens out, according to its official website.

Posted via email from Aviation Professionals dot Org

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