BI to deport Pemberton after release from detention

Robie de Guzman   •   September 9, 2020   •   314

Joseph Scott Pemberton

MANILA, Philippines – Convicted American soldier Joseph Scott Pemberton, who was granted absolute pardon by President Rodrigo Duterte, will be deported to the United States after he is released from detention, the Bureau of Immigration (BI) said Wednesday.

Immigration Commissioner Jaime Morente said the bureau will implement the summary deportation order issued against Pemberton on Sept. 16, 2015 for being an undesirable alien when he was sentenced for the 2014 murder of Filipino transgender Jennifer Laude.

Morente said he has asked the Bureau of Corrections (BuCor) to turn Pemberton over to the Immigration bureau once he is released from detention.

The BI chief explained that his request will enable the bureau to complete the deportation proceedings that was initiated against the American convict.

It is also a standard operating procedure for the BuCor to turn over to the BI alien convicts who have finished serving their prison sentences so they could be deported or sent back to their country of origin, Morente added.

The bureau said that foreign nationals who are up for deportation are required to submit clearances from the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) and regional trial court as proof that they have no more pending criminal or civil cases.

Once these requirements are submitted, the bureau will then arrange and schedule the deportee’s flight.

The deportee will be escorted to the airport by BI intelligence agents and civil security personnel who would turn him over to the airline concerned before he boards the aircraft.

“At any rate, we are awaiting instructions from our Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra for guidance on how we will implement the deportation order in a manner that is within the prescribed laws of the country,” Morente said.

Nearly 3,000 Chinese nationals ordered to leave PH for violating visa rules – BI

Robie de Guzman   •   October 27, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – A total of 2,736 Chinese nationals have been ordered to leave the country for violating the conditions of their visa, the Bureau of Immigration (BI) said Tuesday.

Immigration Commissioner Jaime Morente said that from January to October, Chinese nationals who were granted visas upon arrival (VUA) but failed to leave on their departure date were given orders to leave.

Under the VUA system, visa grantees are not allowed to extend their stay beyond 30 days.

“More than half of those who were ordered to leave were blacklisted from the country,” Morente said in a statement.

“While some were unable to leave due to circumstance, following the cancellation of many flights due to the pandemic, those who stayed without sufficient basis were included in our blacklist,” he added.

The VUA program, a joint project of the tourism and justice departments, was launched in 2017 to attract Chinese tourists and tour groups to travel and stay in the Philippines without the need to apply for visas at Philippine consulates in their places of origin.

Travelers may apply for a VUA through tour operators accredited by the Department of Tourism.

“VUA arrivals account for only around 5% of total Chinese arrivals in the country,” Morente said.

“Most of those who arrived already secured their entry visas from our foreign posts abroad,” he added.

The implementation of the VUA was suspended in January due to the coronavirus disease pandemic.

Immigration employees showing COVID-19 symptoms to get free swab tests

Robie de Guzman   •   October 19, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – Employees exhibiting novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) will be provided with free RT-PCR tests, the Bureau of Immigration (BI) said Monday.

In a statement, Immigration Commissioner Jaime Morente said the effort is to ensure the health and safety of the bureau’s personnel.

“Being frontliners, BI personnel are one of the most at risk as we are in close contact with numerous people every day in the performance of our duties,” he said.

BI Deputy Commissioner Aldwin Alegre, who chairs the BI COVID Task Force, said the swab testing will be conducted through the help of partner agencies.

“We have received allocation for swab kits from the Philippine Coast Guard and the Local Government Unit of Manila,” Alegre said.

“We are very thankful for their support, and this will go a long way in our fight against Covid,” he added.

Alegre said priority will be given to symptomatic employees, as well as those who came in close contact with confirmed COVID-19 patients.

Testing for BI employees will be conducted at the Palacio de Maynila, Manila Health Office, and Palacio del Gobernador in Intramuros.

BI to ease departure travel restrictions starting October 21

Marje Pelayo   •   October 19, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – The Bureau of Immigration (BI) has announced that it will be implementing eased departure restrictions for Filipino citizens following the resolution issued by the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) on Emerging Infectious Diseases. 

“Starting October 21, the BI will be allowing the departure of Filipinos with non-essential travel,” BI Commissioner Jaime Morente said.

“Outbound tourism is now allowed for Filipinos, subject to compliance with protocols set by the IATF,” he added.

Initially, only foreign nationals, overseas Filipino workers, permanent visa holders, students enrolled abroad, participants accepted in exchange visitor programs, as well as those who had essential travel, were allowed to depart.

Recently, the IATF through Resolution no. 79 further relaxed restrictions now including non-essential travels.

However, the IATF requires outbound Filipino tourists to present a round trip ticket, health and travel insurance, and a negative antigen result at least 24 hours before departure. 

Also, according to the ruling, if the country of destination requires an RT-PCR test, then the same must be presented instead.

Departing Filipinos shall also be required to sign a declaration acknowledging the risks of their travel, to be provided by airline check-in counters. 

Commissioner Morente stressed that after the said process, passengers will still undergo regular immigration assessment.

He clarified, however, that inbound restrictions are still in place. 

“We are on standby for any changes in policy, as directed by the IATF and the President,” he stated.

Currently, only Filipinos, their spouse and minor children are allowed to enter the country holding tourist visas. 

Restrictions allow foreign children with special needs of Filipinos, the foreign parent of minor Filipinos, and the foreign parent of Filipino children with special needs to enter the country.

Those who are eligible to enter are required to secure an entry visa from Philippine embassies or consulates, prior to their arrival.

Apart from said categories, accredited foreign government and international organization officials and their dependents, foreign airline crewmembers, foreign seafarers with 9(c) visas, and foreigners with long-term visas are also allowed.

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