To prevent crime against child trafficking and exploitation, the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) Field Office Caraga, is exerting all efforts to ensure the protection and safety of Filipino children. With this, the Department, through the Minors Traveling Abroad frontline service, is heightening its monitoring of minors traveling abroad.
The enacted laws by the Government served as the legal basis in the issuance of travel clearance to safeguard minors. Under RA 7610 or “Special Protection of Children Against Child Abuse, Exploitation, and Discrimination Act.” It provides a tougher deterrence as to special protection of minors.
Based on MTA’s available data, due to the continued threat of the Covid pandemic, there is a decreasing number of applicants recorded. For the 1st quarter of 2021, only 14 minors applied for travel clearance, of which 8 are new applicants, and 6 are for subsequent travels. Most of the clients came to the office to inquire about minors traveling abroad for future trips.
“There is an estimated decrease of 72 applicants last year compared to the previous years with 300 or more before pandemic. It may be because of the ongoing threat and the restrictions of travel. So far, we haven’t recorded any turned-down applications due to possible trafficking and besides, it’s impossible since we have heightened the monitoring of our minors having trips abroad,” Rhiza L. Abing, SWO I/CBSU-MTA said.
Furthermore, securing travel clearance for minors traveling abroad has documentary requirements like minors traveling alone, and minors traveling with other than parents or legal guardians. However, for minors traveling alone, documents may vary since it needs UM certificate (Unaccompanied Minor) from the airline or waiver from the parents releasing DSWD from any liability/responsibility in case of untoward incident during the travel of the child.
The requirements needed to obtain a travel clearance for minors traveling abroad are duly accomplished application form; a photocopy of National Statistics Office (NSO)-issued birth certificate of the minor; notarized affidavit of the consent of both parents/solo parent/legal guardian permitting the minor to travel to a foreign country alone or with a specific companion; two pieces colored passport size photo of the minor taken within the last six months; identification card or certification from the MSWDO (for solo parents); and Tallaq or Fasakh certification from the Shariah court or any Muslim Barangay/religious leader (for Muslims).
“Usually, the process will take two to three days. But, if the requirements are already complete, we can have it processed in just one day. Because most of the time, what causes delays are incomplete requirements”, Abing added.
To assess the quality of service in responding to the applicants, the Field Office initiated a survey in every client served. 84% were very satisfied and 16% were satisfied with the service they got.
Indeed, the Department has a smooth implementation of Minors Traveling Abroad within the 1st quarter of 2021, and it is committed to continuously monitoring child trafficking against this rampant crime.