Filipinos headed for UAE taste bitter corruption
As a measure of protection, Filipino tourists heading for the UAE must receive special immigration clearance, but it has been backfiring as of late...
September 23, 2012 10:12 by M. Aldalou
There are over 600,000 Philippine nationals living in the United Arab Emirates, according to a 2011 HSBC survey, and although that number has experienced a decline during the 2008-09 period of heightened recession, Dubai is still considered ‘home’ to hundreds of thousands of Filipinos employed in all corners of the country from construction and hospitality to media and marketing.
A few years ago, both the local and Philippines government sat down to discuss any and all options on how to prevent their citizens from falling into the common trap of illegal labour recruitment, human trafficking and other kinds of extortion or abuse. This sense of urgency, at the time, was reportedly prompted by the shocking number of citizens who had indeed fallen victim to, shall we say, less than fortunate circumstances.
One of the chosen and implemented protective methods was tightening the immigration clearance rules for UAE-bound Filipino tourists. This meant that immigration officers were given guidelines to ensure that all Filipino tourists and visitors heading to the Middle Eastern country must first be given a special clearance, depending on their reason for travel.
The process of rejection of clearance is referred to as ‘offloading’ and it includes stopping suspected victims of illegal recruitment or human trafficking from leaving the country. Sounds like a noble step for their government to take? Yes, Kipp thought so too, until we read The National’s report that brings to light the underbelly of the immigration departments, where corrupt officers have been abusing their given power for personal gain and interest.
The report highlights the presence of an unpleasant agenda pertaining to certain corrupt immigration workers that have been denying Filipino tourists their clearance despite them being legitimate visitors with sponsors. Why? They want to be bribed.
“In October last year, my wife was offloaded three times. People at the airport offered to help her leave for a certain fee,” a Filipino hotel chef residing in Dubai was quoted as saying by The National.
Although the Bureau of Immigration in the country has insisted that tourists who have been conned into paying a bribe should come forth and reveal the corrupt officers, no break in the case has yet been made. “Please give us names. If they have allegations, we can’t act on them unless they identify the immigration officers,” said a spokesperson from the Bureau.
While Kipp is saddened by the ironic existence of said corruption, especially as it lies within the confines of citizen protection, we realize that the guidelines themselves were initially thought of and put into power as a shield. But considering the amount of Filipino nationals that look to the UAE every year for better opportunities and a better life, the government should be taking extreme measures to ‘trim the fat’ of the corrupted immigration circle.
Do you think these rules are benefiting the citizens in the long run? Leave your comments below.