Pia questions new IACAT guidelines

Manifestation of Senator Pia S. Cayetano on the privilege speech of Senate President Juan Miguel Zubiri on the revised IACAT requirements

Thank you, Mr. President. I’d like to commend our Senate President for the timely delivery of his privilege speech, precisely because the subject matter is going to be effective as of September 3. I’d just like to share some insights.

For many years, I have been involved, in fact, the late Sec. Toots Ople was also very much involved in [anti] human trafficking efforts. So I’d like to remember her because she also worked very tirelessly on these issues, mostly of course trafficking victims are women, but of course it can also happen to men. So I do know all the advocates personally. And I do know that they work tirelessly on issues that they are passionate about.

But I have also, for the same amount of time, seen well-meaning policies of the government, especially when it involves agencies with 10, 15, 20 members. [They] can come up with policies that really cannot be implemented in an orderly manner. And I think this [IACAT revised requirements] may really be one of them.

So let me just point out one example. I am sure many of us in the Senate have received a request by text, e-mail or even people coming to us na ‘patulong naman magpa-consularize ng documents abroad.’ For the benefit of those who do not understand the importance of consularized or authenticated documents, when we need certifications of documents that have to be certified abroad, hindi yan basta-basta. Kunyari, affidavit of support. Hindi basta-basta papansinin sa Pilipinas ang affidavit that was executed in another country. That person executing or signing the document must go to the Philippine Embassy to have it authenticated in the embassy. And I would receive messages saying, ‘may kilala ka ba sa Consul ng ganito? Magpapa-authenticate kami.’ It’s very difficult because hindi ko naman sinisisi ang mga consular offices natin or embassies, baka sa dami ng trabaho. The point is, napakahirap magpa-consularize.

And with this regulation that our Senate President mentioned, kapag ikaw ay isang sponsored traveler and ang relationship mo doon sa sponsor mo ay 4th degree of consanguinity or affinity, which actually is a term that a layman does not understand, pero explain ko, ganito lang yan. Kapag ikaw ito, ang nanay or tatay mo one degree, ang kapatid mo pababa, two degrees. Ang lolo mo naman one degree to the parent, two degrees to the grandparent. So doon pa lang, bibilangin mo kung ano ang 4th degree, basically pinsan yun. Kung ang sponsor mo ay up to sa 4th degree, o di kaya you are not related to that person at all, kailangan mo ngayon mag-present ng original affidavit of support duly notarized by the Philippine Embassy Consulate or Honorary Consulate.

So napakaraming city in the world, kilalang city, na wala tayong consular office. So for example, Barcelona, Spain. For a while, mayroon tayong Consular Office sa Spain. Kasi ang Embassy natin nasa Madrid, tapos sinara natin yun under my protest, in all sincerity, kasi hindi ako naniwala, bakit kailangan tanggalin ang Consular Office natin sa Barcelona. Pero nangyari yun. Ngayon ata, I don’t know if our Chairman… Yes, I know it’s back na nga, binalik na. Pero dati, wala yan sa Barcelona, sa ibang lugar na napakarami pa rin Pilipino, whether it’s Italy, Spain, andaming cities na walang Consular Offices. Babyahe pa ng mga apat na oras, anim na oras ang mga kababayan natin para pumunta doon sa Embassy or Consular Office na doon sila magpapa-authenticate. Lahat yan, they have to do para ibigay nila doon sa kanilang sponsored traveler na Pilipino. So pag-eexplain ko pa lang, napagod na ako. What more doon sa babyahe mismo? Nakakapagod talaga, your honor. And may gastos pa yan sa kanila, they’ll have to take a train, a bus. Sometimes, lumilipad pa sila. Andami. I mean…I truly believe from the bottom of my heart, Mr Senate President, na well-meaning naman ang mga gumawa ng rules na ito. But just as my colleagues will all I hope agree with me, you know when we have our firm advocacies and I put in one of mine, kailangan ganito, tapos Sen. Joel will say, ito rin kailangan. Minority Leader will say, ito rin kailangan. And the Chairman of the Committee on Finance will say, ito rin kailangan. The next thing you know, there’s a long, long list. And there is no one overseeing it who will say na sandali lang, teka muna. Nahuli niyo ba ang perpetrator? Of course hindi. Hindi niyo naman nahuli ang perpetrator. But yes maybe, maybe you will save a life. But at what expense? And are there not any more effective ways to protect our women, our children?

Because let’s not be misquoted. Every single person here in this hall will agree that we want to protect the most vulnerable. Let us agree that that is a good objective. But the manner of implementing this does not seem to be aligned, [it] does not seem to be the most effective way to protect the vulnerable. In fact, it curtails constitutional rights of travel and maybe the opportunity to be reunited with your loved one. Baka hindi na sila magkita, your honor, dahil napakahirap mabuo itong proseso na ito.

So yun lang. I just wanted to share my insights on the very well timed privilege speech of our Senate President. Thank you po. #

“Every single person here in this hall will agree that we want to protect the most vulnerable.. But the manner of implementing this does not seem…to be the most effective way to protect the vulnerable. In fact, it curtails constitutional rights of travel and maybe the opportunity to be reunited with your loved one,” said Senator Pia Cayetano in her manifestation questioning the objective of the revised IACAT guidelines on Filipinos traveling abroad.






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