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OFWs in Macau renew campaign against offloading

26 July 2017

Emer de Lina 
Migrant workers in Macau have stepped up a campaign against the offloading of their family members leaving the Philippines by launching a petition campaign against the practice on July 2.

Migrante Macau chair and protest organizer Emer de Lina said the practice carried out by Bureau of Immigration officials in Manila is discriminatory and insulting.

“It is discriminatory because this only happens to OFWs’ relatives, as well as other ordinary Filipinos, not bigwig politicians or their…wives.  It is insulting, because the Bureau of Immigration officials in Manila assume that the offloaded migrant Filipinos are illegally leaving the country, when they merely want to visit us.” De Lina said in a press statement.

She complained that those who are prevented from taking their flights to Macau are left with no recourse because there is no complaint mechanism for those offloaded, much less an investigation.

“If the passenger was treated wrongly, what can be done to resolve the problem? How long will it take for it to be resolved? And what can be done so that it will not happen again? Our relatives are guilty until proven innocent,” she said.

The offloading has reportedly led to dire consequences for the migrant workers, as they end up losing not just sleep over the failure of visiting family members to board their flights, but also a substantial sum.

De Lina said the workers usually buy promotional air fares which are non-refundable so if their relatives are turned away at the airports, they end up buying tickets for them again.

Workers also pay for the authenticated affidavit of support from the Consulate at more than MOP200 each, as the document purports to show that they will be taking care of their relatives’ financial needs while in Macau.

“However, this is disregarded by BI officials. In addition, there are allegations that these officials solicit bribes from our held-up relatives so that they will be able to leave,” De Lina said.

The protesters are urging an immediate end to the offloading at all international airports in the Philippines, and for the Bureau of Immigration to duly recognize the affidavits of support issued by the country’s consulates and embassies abroad.

They are also calling for the said affidavit to be issued free of charge as an “added recognition of the invaluable contribution made by migrant Filipinos to our country.”

Further, they asked that the “corrupt officials” involved in the offloading of passengers be investigated and prosecuted.

The protesters revived their longstanding campaign against offloading after Foreign Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano promised at a community dialogue in Hong Kong on July 2 that he would raise the issue with Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II upon his return to Manila. –

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