Monday, November 21, 2011

The Tragically and Traumatic Philippine Immigration Experience

Section 6 of the Bill of Rights states that “The liberty of abode and of changing the same within the limits prescribed by law shall not be impaired except upon lawful order of the court; Neither shall the right to travel be impaired except in the interest of national security, public safety, or public health, as may be provided by law” of which I believe was one of my right as a citizen of this Republic that are unjustly violated by the Philippine Immigration.

My friend invited me to visit St. Petersburg, Russia. The reason why he invited me to St. Petersburg is that he is working in the Finnish Consulate in St. Petersburg. He visited the Philippines last December 2009 and I was the one who stand as his guide as we are friends for more than a year now…The Philippines is the 56th country he visited around the globe.

As he is the one who invited me to visit the country he stands as the sponsor for all the expenses of my travel since I am not financially capable to travel as I am still a student. My travel in St. Petersburg is guaranteed by the Finnish Consulate as it is stated in the invitation letter with their consulate logo. As I spoke to Mr. Petri he told me that he was so disappointed on how the Philippine Immigration treated me.

I was granted an eighty-two days tourist visa to St. Petersburg by the Russian Embassy in Makati.  On the 6th of May I went to Cagayan de Oro City for my flight to Cebu City, but I came late so I was rebooked to another flight at 9PM this time to Manila, then I arrived in NAIA 3 at more or less at around 11PM. My connecting flight to Hongkong will be at 5:30 AM on the next morning, 7th of May 2011.

At my dismay, when I was processing my papers in the Immigration before boarding to the plane, they prohibit me to travel and denied to board the plane. I passed through three persons, the first one is the guy who interviewed me and let me signed two documents before he told me to go to the other person. I handed my papers including my passport to this second person who is another guy. This person went inside the office and then he came out along with all my documents. Then he turned over my papers to this lady whom I felt that time is a judge and she is judging me because of what she did to me that morning... I really felt that I was humiliated during her interview to me.

I really felt that the world fall on to me at that time, because I was so positive that I will be granted to travel because I have no bad intentions and then in the end it went as tragic as that. I wonder how easy for her to deny me to travel after the things that I’ve been through just to be there at that time.

I was so shocked on the reasons why she cannot let me travel. According to that lady she can’t let me travel unless I could present the following documents:

1. English Translation of the Invitation Letter done by the Russian Embassy in Manila.
2. Authenticated Affidavit of Support & Guaranteed from the nearest Philippine Consulate.

I infer that she required me the English Translation of the invitation letter because of her incompetence’s? As she is assigned to such job she should have the competency to speak different languages or might posses the ability to read and understand or someone in the Immigration Office shall be able to deal such situation. The Philippine Immigration should not hire and employ people who are not fit for the job. I believe I have the right to say this because what happened and what she did is a proof that she is incompetent. If she could read and understand Russian language then she will no longer need to ask me the second document because basically what is written in the invitation letter is a statement from Mr. Petri guaranteeing his support towards my travel and stay in St. Petersburg.

On the other hand, how come I could produce such document at that moment when I know that the requirement for a person to travel to Russia is a valid visa, a complete travel itinerary (back and forth flight itinerary), medical insurance and enough money this is found in Philippine Immigration website (www. specifically in this page: 

It was really impossible for me to get such document right there and then. It was Saturday and the Russian Embassy in Makati is only open on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. On the other hand, the Philippine Consulate in Russia is in Moscow. The following document she requires me to present to her is impossible to obtain. If I can obtain it, then it would really take time. In addition to it, I am a student and I have to be back on the scheduled date of my return ticket because I still have to enroll on the 1st day of June 2011. And how come she will require me to produce such documents, in which law it is based upon? I never heard a traveler was asked to produce such documents in the day of their travel because if I knew that they would require such I should have secured those papers. In addition, they didn’t put it in their website that they will require such document. I don’t have any pending criminal case that may be a concrete reason to deny my travel.

I was really disappointed and feel that my rights were unjustly violated specifically my right to travel. It was so easy for her to deny me “it’s like she was telling me to throw the hundred and sixty five thousand pesos into the trash can” as he spent more or less this much in order for me to visit St. Petersburg.

I was also caught into wonder about what she replied when I tried to negotiate and ask her the real reasons I mean the reasons based on the immigration law or whatever it is that will serve as the basis  for not allowing me to travel at that time. I don’t have concrete knowledge on immigration laws but when I asked her why she won’t allow me to travel, she only said, “it’s a case to case basis” ….does this mean that there is no specific guidelines or protocols being followed by them? And what case do I have for her to decide not to allow me to travel? Further, she said that Russia is not a good place for travel by saying that "Moscow is not a tourist friendly city". She did asked my travel itinerary and found out that I am passing Moscow. She even tried to solicit agreement with another immigration officer by calling the other lady officer by saying "Di ba ma'm ang Moscow hindi sila friendly sa tourist", but I never heard the other lady immigration officer replied. How come, she could perceive and refer Moscow as a "not a tourist friendly city" when I only read in internet it’s the upper north of Russia that there are threats not the capital city Moscow.

Does this mean that it depends on the immigration officer’s mood if she likes to let or not a traveler board on the plane? Is it the reason why there are drug mules that get pass through their system of checking?

I really question the accuracy of their judgments… because if they will just say it’s a case to case basis this would only mean that they do not have concrete basis. She even said that it’s ‘actually what the United States is doing. How come that they are following what the United States are doing, does that mean that they don’t have originality?

It is very unfair if that’s how easy for them to thrash how much we spent not to mention the hardships that I have been through just for that travel. I even got an incomplete grade in my Financial Management subject because of the time that I devoted just to comply for the requirements for that travel.

I say, that experienced was tragically and traumatic for me and most especially very depressing. The Philippine Immigration displayed a very disappointing and very unjust practice towards me as its citizen. Citing the fact that there is no single reason that could possibly barred from boarding my flight to travel to St. Petersburg. I could not cite any reason to celebrate of what happened, but sadly, according to my friend Petri, as he wrote the Russian Prime Minister they are sad of how the Philippine Immigration viewed their country.  On the other hand, the Finnish head Consul in St. Petersburg is so shocked when Mr. Petri informed him this event. He cannot believe that such incident could happen.

By this incident, to those who intend to travel to Russia as a tourist, be aware of this cross-eyed lady immigration officer who acts like she is the law of the land and please secure the two documents she asked me by any means may be by magic wand? in order for you to surely board your plane to your destination.

To the Immigration key people, I hope this incident shall not happen to any Filipino citizen of this country who doesn’t have any intention but to enjoy the fun and experience of going out the country for vacation, you know to get away with the long tedious school works throughout the years of studying.


Dave Josef said...

On the other hand, how come I could produce such document at that moment when I know that the requirement for a person to travel to Russia is a valid visa

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