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AOS still being notarised for UAE-bound Filipinos PDF Print E-mail
Dec 30, 2010 at 12:08 PM
THE Philippine Consulate General (PCG) in Dubai continues to notarise the affidavit of support (AOS) for UAE-bound Filipinos on visit visa, even though the document is not a mandatory requirement imposed by Manila.

The Gulf Today learnt about this on Wednesday, following the receipt of an e-mail from a vacationing Filipino Dubai resident, stating that albeit the presentation of “authenticated sponsorship documents,” hundreds are still off-loaded every day when they fail in the cross-examinations conducted by the Bureau of Immigration (BI) officers at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (Naia).

The source quoted a BI “examiner” stationed at the Naia.

On the same day, the Consul General for Dubai and the Northern Emirates Benito Valeriano, confirmed the continuous implementation of the notarisation.

He stressed that the notarisation is also being implemented by all the other 83 Philippine diplomatic posts around the world as an anti-trafficking scheme - as support for the Philippines’ Anti-Trafficking of Women and Children Law.

Earlier, Valeriano had received flak from Filipinos and other nationalities, for the lack of information disseminated on the procedures and necessary requirements for the AOS, including the apparent non-coordination between his office and the BI, perceived to be the cause of the numerous offloading of Filipinos on visit visa to the UAE.

According to an earlier interview with PCG Assistance to Nationals Officer Marilyn Lucero, the notarisation was a consequence of various communiqués from the posts on the prevalence of human trafficking cases. She mentioned that BI decided to implement it when its officers had noticed that a Dubai-based travel agency, reported by the PCG to be the channel for prostitution, had been the frequent source of visit visas.

“But, the notarised AOS does not guarantee that our countrymen on visit visa would be allowed to leave,” Valeriano said.

He explained that such is the situation since it is still the BI officers at any exit port in the Philippines who determine whether the departing Filipinos visit visa holders are tourists or pretending to be tourists.

Based on community reports and data from the PCG and the Philippine Embassy, including the two Philippine Overseas Labour Offices, it is these “pretenders” who oftentimes fall prey to human trafficking namely prostitution, illegal recruitment and forced labour.

Valeriano said he personally interviews an average of 24 applicants (supposed to be financially-capable relatives of the visit visa holders) for the AOS a day. He said that “it is (based on) their word” that they get the notarisation.

He added that he had met with the BI in his recent visit to the Philippines and learnt that

officers have become much tougher in the scrutiny of UAE-bound Filipinos on visit visa.

“But they said they easily let go of those who can prove that their sponsors are their parents or relatives,” he said.

But then, the “majority” cannot really prove their kinship with their sponsors when interrogated, Valeriano pointed out. Hence, they are barred from leaving for the UAE.

Earlier correspondence with the BI officer-in-charge Ronaldo Ledesma revealed that the NAOS is not a requirement. Yet, “many Filipino travelers resort to this when they cannot show either their personal capacity or that of their sponsor to shoulder the costs of the trip.”

Ledesma added the NAOS is not a guarantee for departure and the BI officer can assess for the truthfulness of its contents.

“President Aquino has stressed that the law against human trafficking is tough and must be implemented to protect Filipinos from being victimised,” he had wrote.

The NAOS issue became so controversial that according to interviews with The Gulf Today friends, it is the top story from the Filipino community for 2010.

The other top story was the month-long overseas absentee voting held for the May 10 national elections, wherein 4,295 from the 7,917 who cast their vote, out of 47,665 registered voters, went for Aquino as their next president. --Mariecar Jara-Puyod, Gulf Today


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