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From: Melanie Orhant (
Date: Wed Jun 21 2000 - 08:09:08 EDT

Top immigration and consular officials from member-countries of the
Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) agreed yesterday to
intensify the fight against human smuggling in the region by stopping the
activities of syndicates engaged in the trafficking of persons, especially
of women and children.
A draft ASEAN declaration against trafficking of women and children was one
of the major highlights of the ad hoc High Level Experts Group Meeting on
Immigration and Consular Matters which ended at the Shangri-La Hotel in
Mactan, Cebu.
The delegates agreed to submit the draft declaration for discussion at the
fourth annual meeting of Director-Generals of Immigration and Heads of
Consular Divisions of ASEAN Foreign Ministries to be held in Davao City
this October.
The Philippine government was also requested to prepare a paper outlining a
regional approach to combatting human trafficking and a paper on irregular
migration, both of which will also be presented for discussion at the Davao
The request was made after the Philippine delegation presented a report on
the results of the Asian Regional Initiative Against Trafficking of Women
and Children (ARIAT) held in Manila last March 29-31.
In the same meeting, the delegates came up with a proposed ASEAN Plan of
Action on Immigration and Consular Matters which they agreed to endorse at
the Davao meeting for discussion and approval.
They also endorsed the publication of an ASEAN Immigration and Consular
Directory (AICD) and agreed to discuss a training program for immigration
officials of Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, and Vietnam.
Philippine Immigration Commissioner Rufus Rodriguez, who chaired the
two-day meeting, described the results of the conference as "productive and
Rodriguez said the discussions and recommendations reached at the meeting
reflect ASEAN's continuing commitment to highlight and project the vital
role of immigration and consular officials in regional peace, security and
development in Southeast Asia.
He expressed optimism that the meeting will lead to increased ASEAN
cooperation not only in fighting human trafficking and other transnational
crimes but also in forging closer economic integration and developing
tourism in the region.
Rodriguez explained that the increasing participation of immigration and
consular authorities in regional affairs was in line with the priorities
set by ASEAN in the Hanoi Plan of Action and the attainment of ASEAN Vision
ASEAN groups the Philippines, Malaysia, Thailand, Indonesia, Singapore,
Brunei, Laos, Cambodia, Myanmar and Vietnam.

Record income

The Bureau of Immigration (BI) collected a record high P246.4 million in
the first three months of the year, bolstering the agency's chances of
joining the elite club of government agencies that post an annual income of
more than a billion pesos.
In a report to President Estrada, Immigration Commissioner Rufus Rodriguez
said the BI's collection in the first quarter was P144.7-million, or 169
percent higher than the P91.7 million the bureau collected in the same
period last year.
Rodriguez pointed out that at the current average collection of P83 million
a month, it is highly possible that the BI's income would reach P1 billion
by yearend, thereby transforming the bureau into one of the government's
elite revenue generating agencies.
Statistics showed that the BI registered its highest income in February
when it collected P87.2 million, compared to its collection of P74 million
in January and P85.2 million in March.
The bureau's February 2000 income surpassed its February 1999 collection by
201 percent, while its January and March earnings were higher by 170
percent and 141 percent, respectively, compared with the same months last
The income came from immigration fees, fines and other charges the bureau
collects from foreigners transacting business at its main building in
Intramuros, Manila and the various immigration field offices nationwide.
Copyright 2000 Manila Bulletin Publishing Corp. All rights reserved.

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