Aliens not traveling with Filipino kin not allowed to enter PH during travel ban — BI

Marje Pelayo   •   April 8, 2021   •   193

MANILA, Philippines — The Bureau of Immigration (BI) on Thursday (April 8) announced anew that foreign parents, spouses and children of Filipino citizens cannot enter the Philippines if they are not traveling with the latter.

In a statement, BI Commissioner Jaime Morente reiterated that said existing guidelines on international travel set by the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF) do not allow the entry of foreign parents, spouses, and children of Filipinos if they are traveling alone.

Also, said foreigners should possess valid visas secured in the country’s foreign posts abroad to be able to enter the country.

Morente added that the Balikbayan privilege, which allows the visa-free entry of foreign spouses and children of Filipinos, remains suspended.

The reminder was issued following reports that a handful of aliens were denied at the airports for attempting to enter the country without their Filipino spouse, children, or parent.

Morente stressed that airlines are directed to ensure that only foreigners eligible to enter the country during the implementation of the travel restrictions are allowed to board their Philippine-bound flights.

The Philippines reimposed a ban on the entry of foreigners last month amid the resurgence in the number of COVID-19 cases in the country.

The ban, which started last March 22, remains in effect until April 21.

Aside from prohibiting the entry of foreigners, the IATF also ordered a reduction in the number of inbound international travelers to only 1,500 a day.

BI intercepts fake OFWs with falsified OECs bound for Qatar

Marje Pelayo   •   April 23, 2021

MANILA, Philippines – Personnel of the Bureau of Immigration (BI) at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) on Tuesday (April 22) intercepted two Filipinas illegally recruited to work in Qatar.

According to a report from BOC’s Travel Control and Enforcement Unit (TCEU), the two Filipinas were intercepted at the departure area of NAIA Terminal 3 when they attempted to board a flight via Qatar Airways.

“The quick eye of our immigration officers in the frontlines saw that there was reason to suspect the duo, upon noticing that their Overseas Employment Certificates (OECs) are not encoded in our linked database with the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA),” TCEU Chief Ma. Timotea Barizo said in her report to Immigration Chief Jaime Morente.

As a matter of protocol, the duo were referred to the terminal’s POEA Labor Assistance Center (LAC) to verify their documents.

They returned presenting a validated slip, which the officers discovered were falsified.

During questioning by the BI’s TCEU, both victims then confessed that their OEC validation forms were only given by their handler near the airport’s exit, to whom they each paid P35,000 in return for the document package they presented.

According to Barizo, falsifying OECs is futile because they have an integrated system with the POEA to check if all departing OFWs are properly documented.

“Securing the proper documents and clearances from the POEA is crucial for all aspiring OFWs to protect them from abusive companies and employers,” Barizo further reminded.

Morente lauded the efforts of immigration officers against human trafficking but expressed his dismay towards trafficking and illegal recruitment syndicates.

“This should now serve as a warning to syndicates who may have falsely believed that the bureau has become lenient in screening documents during the pandemic,” Morente said.

Both victims were turned over to the Inter-Agency Council Against Trafficking (IACAT) for further investigation and assistance.

Hong Kong imposes 14-day travel ban vs. Philippines, India, Pakistan over mutant COVID strain

Marje Pelayo   •   April 19, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — The Hong Kong government issued a temporary travel ban on flights from neighboring India, Pakistan, and the Philippines after reports of the presence of a specific COVID-19 strain in these countries.

This, after the Hong Kong government implemented on April 14 the tightened flight-specific suspension mechanism along with the new place-specific flight suspension mechanism.

The 14-day travel ban, which will take effect Tuesday (April 20), applies to all people from the said countries which the Hong Kong government considered as ‘extremely high risk.’

“With confirmed cases involving the N501Y mutant strain detected for the first time in the community in Hong Kong, for prudence’s sake, the Government has applied the criteria of the newly implemented place-specific flight suspension mechanism retrospectively for 14 days on places where there had been imported cases confirmed by arrival tests that carried the N501Y mutant strain,” the Hong Kong government said.

“India, Pakistan, and the Philippines all had seven-day cumulative number of relevant cases that reached the relevant criteria in the past 14 days, and the Government will therefore invoke the place-specific flight suspension mechanism for these three places,” it added.

Those who came from the said countries but are already quarantined in Hong Kong must get tested on their 26th day in the city under emergency measures.

Those who have traveled to these three countries in the last 21 days as well as those who stayed for more than two hours on the day of boarding will not be allowed to enter Hong Kong.

Phl extends travel ban; allows aliens with travel exemption

Marje Pelayo   •   April 19, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — The Bureau of Immigration (BI) has announced that foreigners who were given entry documents prior to the implementation of last month’s travel ban may now enter the country.

In an advisory issued by the Bureau, Immigration Commissioner Jaime Morente said foreigners with entry exemption documents issued by the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) before March 22 are now allowed to enter the country amid an extension of travel restrictions to April 30.

The revised rule is pursuant to the latest resolution of the Inter-Agency Task on the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF).

Morente said other foreign nationals are still prohibited from entering the Philippines and that the Balikbayan privilege for former Filipinos remains suspended.

“The foreign parents, spouse, and children of Filipinos may enter the country, provided they are traveling with the Filipino principal, and have a valid entry visa,” he said on Sunday (April 18).

Based on the IATF’s policy, aliens with valid entry visas currently allowed to enter the country include:

* Diplomats and members of international organizations with valid 9(e) or 47(a) (2) visas;
* Those involved in medical repatriation endorsed by the DFA and Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA); and
* Seafarers with 9(c) visa for crew change; and (4) those with emergency, humanitarian and analogous cases approved by the chairperson of the National Task Force Against Covid-19 (NTF) or his authorized representative.

Morente said travel exemptions are without prejudice to the mandate of the BI to conduct strict screening and formalities on all arriving foreigners.

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