IACAT officials composed of Atty. Darlene Pajarito (standing, facing the camera), Atty. Floro Balato (center, facing the camera) and Atty. Rosemarie Duquez (far right, facing the camera) brief Filcom members in Thailand on human trafficking, immigration procedures and departure formalities, and POEA concerns.
23 June 2014 – A team from the Philippine Inter-Agency Council Against Trafficking (IACAT) briefed members of the Filipino community in Thailand on thePhilippine Anti-Trafficking Law and Labor and Immigration Policies for OFWs during the Philippine Embassy’s 4th Kapihan sa Pasuguan on 21 Saturday at the Philippine Embassy Conference Room.
The IACAT team consisted of Atty. Darlene Pajarito of the Department of Justice (DOJ), Atty. Floro Balato, Jr. of the Bureau of Immigration (BI), and Atty. Rosemarie Duquez of the Philippine Overseas and Employment Administration (POEA).
Atty. Pajarito discussed Republic Act No. 9208, also known as the Anti-Trafficking in Persons Act of 2003, and R.A. 10364, the Expanded Anti-Trafficking in Persons Act of 2012. She said that R.A. 9208 created the IACAT as the primary government agency in charge of combating human trafficking. IACAT has four mandates, namely, (1) advocacy and prevention, (2) protection, recovery, rehabilitation, and reintegration; (3) prosecution and law enforcement; and (3) partnership and networking.
Atty. Balato discussed Philippine immigration policies on departure formalities. In his presentation, he emphasized that the Bureau of Immigration’s “Strict Departure Policy,” which was first implemented in April 2010, is part of the Philippine Government’s overall effort to prevent human trafficking. He stressed that passengers whose travel is “deferred” by BI officials are often those who do not have proper documents, are improperly documented, or whose purpose of travel is in doubt. He cited the Supreme Court’s decision in the case of OCA vs. Huesdens which upheld the power of the Bureau of Immigration to prevent the departure of passengers with fraudulent travel documents, doubtful purpose of travel, including possible victims of human trafficking.
Atty. Duquez spoke on Labor Policies on Recruitment and Employment Contracts. She explained the benefits of duly registered OFWs as opposed to those who do not register with the POEA. She also explained that OFWs may now apply for Overseas Exit Clearances (OEC) in designated shopping malls and in POEA provincial offices, not just at the POEA main office in Ortigas.
A lively forum followed the briefing. Members of the Filipino community asked for clarification on salient points of the topics discussed. They also requested additional information and advice on related concerns. Minister and Consul General Edgar B. Badajos moderated the proceedings. Ambassador Jocelyn Batoon-Garcia delivered the opening and closing remarks.
The Embassy will be uploading the salient points of the discussion in its Facebook page for the benefit of those who were unable to attend. END