BI suspends online appointment, scales down operations starting Aug. 4

Marje Pelayo   •   August 4, 2020   •   212

MANILA, Philippines – The Bureau of Immigration (BI) announced that it is temporarily suspending its online appointment system for foreign clients at the agency’s main office in Intramuros, Manila starting Tuesday (August 4) as Metro Manila shifts to modified enhanced community quarantine (MECQ).

Immigration Commissioner Jaime Morente advises clients with confirmed appointments between August 3 and 18 to just reapply for new schedules to transact at the Bureau after the MECQ is lifted.

The suspension of the online appointment system is needed because the agency is compelled to operate at limited manpower while the MECQ is in effect, Morente said.

However, the system will remain open to foreign clients who are scheduled to leave the Philippines during the MECQ period.

Likewise, it will continue to reserve slots for departing aliens who need to secure their Emigration Clearance Certificate (ECC), re-entry permit and update their extension fees.

For outbound foreigners, however, Morente said they should present confirmed flight bookings or plane tickets prior to entering the BI’s premises.

Among the transactions that are suspended at the main office include:

  • Applications for conversion to or renewal of immigrant visa;
  • Petition for recognition as Philippine citizens, including Republic Act 9225 or the dual citizenship law;
  • Downgrading of visa status;
  • Tourist visa extension;
  • Special work permits (SWP) and provisional permit to work (PPW);
  • Renewal of alien certificate of registration (ACR I-Cards); and
  • Implementation of applications for visa conversion or extension approved by the Bureau’s Board of Commissioners (BOC).

The BI further advised departing aliens under tourist visa, who overstayed in the country for not more than six months, to just pay their visa extension fees at the airport.

Iloilo City placed under MECQ from Sept. 25 until Oct. 9

Marje Pelayo   •   September 25, 2020

MANILA, Philippines — Iloilo City has been placed under modified enhanced community quarantine (MECQ) effective September 25 until October 9 due to the increasing number of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) cases in the city.

According to Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque the new measure is based on the issued Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) Resolution 74 which also requires facility-based isolation for confirmed asymptomatic and mild COVID-19 cases.

However, the resolution exempts patients who are considered vulnerable or having comorbidities as confirmed by the local health officer.

Another exception would be when the Ligtas COVID-19 Centers within the region are fully occupied and the local government unit does not have sufficient isolation facilities.

On Tuesday (September 22), 33 employees of the Iloilo City Hall tested positive for COVID-19 prompting the three-day temporary closure of the establishment beginning Wednesday (September 23) as declared by Mayor Jerry Treñas in Executive Order No. 215-A.

Prior to that, 13 barangays in the city were placed under total lockdown due to the increase in community transmission of COVID-19.

PH Immigration opens isolation ward for foreign detainees with COVID-19

Robie de Guzman   •   September 21, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – The Bureau of Immigration (BI) on Monday announced it has opened a quarantine facility to house foreign detainees with mild to moderate symptoms of novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19).

The BI said its Ligtas COVID Centre is located inside the New Bilibid Prison Compound in Muntinlupa City.

The facility can accommodate 30 to 60 persons and will be staffed by medical personnel and guarded by the officers of the BI Warden Facility (BIWF) 24/7.

The BI said it is also planning to install CCTV cameras in the ward, similar to those in hospitals, for remote monitoring and to lessen physical contact.

The project is in partnership with the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), the Department of Justice and the Bureau of Corrections, the bureau said.

BIWF chief Remiecar Caguiron said they used to isolate foreign detainees with COVID-19 symptoms in the custodial quarters of their detention facility at Camp Bagong Diwa, adding that this setup poses a big risk for both the personnel and detainees of contracting the disease.

“We have very limited space in our warden facility, and the number of detained aliens remain high. That’s why this isolation ward lessens the risk, and is a big help in ensuring the health and safety of everyone in the BIWF,” she said.

There are currently 315 aliens detained at the BIWF for various immigration offenses.

The number of detainees ballooned following the BI’s crackdown on large companies that hired illegal aliens earlier this year.

The BI earlier reported that they moved to decongest the detention center as early as April this year.

Caguiron said more than a hundred aliens have already been deported since April, while at-risk detainees have been released on bail.

“Overcrowding in the facility is a health risk, and we want to ensure that we mitigate this risk and stop the spread of this disease though the help of this isolation facility,” she said.

The BI said five aliens have so far tested positive for coronavirus but most of them are now recovering from the viral respiratory disease.

Pemberton flies back to US following BI deportation order

Maris Federez   •   September 13, 2020

US Marine Lance Corporal Joseph Scott Pemberton

MANILA, Philippines — The Bureau of Immigration has announced that US Marine Lance Corporal Joseph Scott Pemberton was successfully deported from the Philippines on Sunday morning, September 13.

Immigration spokesperson Dana Sandoval said in an interview that the military plane that carried Pemberton took off from the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) at exactly 9:14 a.m. He was accompanied by members of the US military and representatives of the US embassy.

The BI official, however, stressed authorities cannot disclose the specific state of Pemberton’s destination for security reasons.

Pemberton was convicted of homicide for killing Filipino transgender Jennifer Laude in 2014.

He was released by virtue of the absolute pardon granted to him by President Rodrigo Duterte after five years into his service of a six-to-10-year prison sentence.

Meanwhile, the US Embassy in the Philippines on Sunday also released an official statement on Pemberton’s release.

“All legal proceedings in the case took place under Philippine jurisdiction and law,” it read.

“Lance Cpl. Pemberton fulfilled his sentence as ordered by Philippine courts and he departed the Philippines on September 13,” it added. — /mbmf

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