MANILA, Philippines – A prominent law professor and dean has slammed the new travel guidelines issued by the Inter-Agency Council Against Trafficking (IACAT) as “kalokohan” or nonsense.

In a Facebook post on Friday, August 25, 2023, Atty. Mel Sta. Maria, the dean of the Far Eastern University (FEU) Institute of Law, expressed his strong opposition to the new travel rules that require more documents and stricter departure protocols for Filipino travelers.

Sta. Maria said that the new guidelines are “unconstitutional” and “violative of the right to travel” guaranteed by Article III, Section 6 of the 1987 Constitution.

He also said that the new rules are “discriminatory” and “presumptuous” as they assume that all Filipino travelers are potential victims or perpetrators of human trafficking.

“The IACAT’s good intention is misguided and will only cause more misery among ordinary Filipino travelers who have legitimate reasons to travel abroad,” Sta. Maria wrote.

He added that the new guidelines will also create more opportunities for corruption and extortion by unscrupulous immigration officers who can demand more money or favors from travelers in exchange for allowing them to leave the country.

Sta. Maria urged the IACAT to reconsider and revoke the new travel rules and instead focus on strengthening its intelligence and investigation capabilities to prevent and prosecute human trafficking cases.

He also called on the public to resist and challenge the new guidelines in court if they are implemented.

“The right to travel is a fundamental right that should not be curtailed by arbitrary and unreasonable regulations. We should not allow this kalokohan to continue,” Sta. Maria concluded.