Monday, January 23, 2006
Hundreds of thousands of children are smuggled across borders for prostitution, forced labor or other forms of exploitation. This phenomenon has given birth to laws that control international travel of children.
In the Philippines, we have Republic Act 7610 (Special Protection of Children against Child Abuse, Exploitation and Discrimination Act) requiring unaccompanied Filipino minors to get a travel clearance from the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) before leaving the Philippines.
A Filipino child needs DSWD travel clearance when going abroad either alone, or with someone not his parent. He also needs it when he is leaving the Philippines for adoption purposes.
If a child is illegitimate, Philippine law gives parental custody and authority to the mother. Therefore, if he travels with his father, he needs a travel clearance.
Travel clearance is also needed when a child goes abroad with a group to compete in sports, join a cultural presentation, pilgrimage or study tour.
Application for travel clearance can be filed by the minor himself if he is from 13 to 17 years old, or by his parents, legal guardian, traveling companion or authorized representative of the parents / legal guardian. The Philippine government's website (www.gov.ph/faqs/travelclearance.asp) lists these requirements:
1. Child's birth certificate on security paper (SECPA)
2. Parents' marriage certificate, if applicable
3. Notarized affidavit of consent from parents / guardian authorizing a specific person to accompany the child in traveling abroad
4. Notarized affidavit of support of sponsor showing employment an salary, certified by the employer, if appropriate
5. Latest income tax return of sponsoring person and/parents with official confirmation receipts
6. Two passport size photos of the child
7. Photocopy of passport and visa of traveling companion.
There are special requirements for other children:
1. Immigrant minors - visa petition approval
2. Minors to study abroad - Acceptance from the school where child is to be enrolled
3. Minors to attend conference, study tours, etc - Certification from sponsoring organization
4. Minors going abroad for medical purposes - Medical certificate of child
5. Adopted minors - Certified copy of adoption decree; Clearance from the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) if adoption was promulgated less than 15 days when application for clearance to travel was made.
6. Minor under legal guardianship - Certified copy of Letter of Guardianship / Court Order
7. Minor 13 years old and above traveling alone - Affidavit executed by parents or legal guardian stating that minor shall be fetched at the airport by the sponsor; Certification for unaccompanied minors from airlines.
8. Additional requirements such as baptismal certificate or school records and the like may be presented depending upon the purpose of minor's travel.
A travel clearance is effective for six months and valid for one travel only.
First published in THE SUN Newspaper, Hong Kong, February 2006 Main Edition
Wednesday, January 18, 2006
Two friends were walking through the desert. During some point of the journey they had an argument, and one slapped the other in the face. The one who got slapped was hurt, but without saying anything, wrote in the sand: TODAY MY BEST FRIEND SLAPPED ME IN THE FACE.
They kept on walking until they found an oasis, and decided to take a bath. The one who had been slapped got stuck in the mire and started drowning, but the friend saved him. After he recovered from near drowning, he wrote on a stone: TODAY MY BEST FRIEND SAVED MY LIFE.
The friend who had slapped and saved his best friend asked him, "After I hurt you, you wrote in the sand and now, you write on a stone, why?" The other replied "When someone hurts us we should write it down in sand where winds of forgiveness can erase it away. But, when someone does something good for us, we must engrave it in stone where no wind can ever erase it."
LEARN TO WRITE YOUR HURTS IN THE SAND AND TO CARVE YOUR BENEFITS IN STONE.
They say it takes a minute to find a special person, an hour to appreciate them, a day to love them, but then an entire life to forget them. Do not value the THINGS you have in your life.. But value WHO you have in your life!