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I woke up this morning to this news from The National: Tourists heading for UAE fleeced in immigration scam
It’s time we AGAIN highlight the dirty, ugly things going on at the Philippine airports. The blog post I wrote almost two years ago regarding the new rule for Filipinos traveling to Dubai still gets a lot of hits from Google search and has over 300 comments. The blog post discusses the so called “Affidavit of Support” (AOS) introduced by the Philippine government for Filipino tourist visa holders to supposedly “protect” them from human trafficking.
But what has happened to the original intention “to protect”?
According to the article in The National:
Filipinos coming to the UAE on tourist visas are being hit for cash by corrupt immigration officers in return for permission to leave the country.
Maria Antonette Bucasas-Mangrobang, spokeswoman for the Bureau of Immigration in Manila, said: “Why do they have to pay in the first place? We don’t sit easily with complaints like these.
“Please give us names. If they have allegations, we can’t act on them unless they identify the immigration officers.”
Allegations!? Don’t the airport have security cameras around? Surely anybody can trace all movements around the airport for suspicious activities! And it’s not like this is a rare hush-hush scene. The people extorting money from tourist visa holders are not exactly discreet.
You ask: Why pay in the first place? Because if it is the only way to escape the FBI-like interrogation and the only way to get that chance of a better future, the people are left without any choice. As far as I know, everyone has the right to travel (blocking that right is unconstitutional and only if the person is in the criminal list) and when and where else is it required that a tourist has to have a relative in the country of destination? (one of the requirements to exit the Philippines is that you should have a relative sponsoring you in Dubai/UAE)
I am appalled at how Ms. Spokeswoman is playing blind and deaf. People are desperate to leave the country to find a better life Ms. Mangrobang. Why don’t you take time out of your busy schedule to actually be present inside the airport to see the situation? It is not hard to see the truth happening right under your nose if you are willing to open your eyes.
Ms. Spokeswoman, I urge you to read this article from The National, published in March 20, 2011 wherein the Philippine Vice President reports on allegations of bribery at Manila airport to extort cash from Filipinos bound for the UAE. So you don’t ask like you’re surprised to hear this “allegations” – it’s been an ongoing problem for the past two years at least.
Looking through the comments in my blog post left by distraught Filipino travelers looking for answers and seeking support from one another. Some of them disclosed that they paid their way out because despite having proper documents people are still unjustly ‘offloaded’.
It is disgusting to note that a system made and implemented to ‘protect’ is becoming a profit generating scheme for the privileged few sitting at the Philippine airports.
IMPORTANT NOTE: The so called “Affidavit of Support” is NOT required by the immigration authorities at the UAE airports.