Immigration braces for passenger influx during SEA Games, holiday season

Robie de Guzman   •   November 22, 2019   •   418

Foreign nationals arrive at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (EPA-EFE/FRANCIS R, MALASIG)

MANILA, Philippines – The Bureau of Immigration (BI) on Friday said it has placed its officers on heightened alert amid the expected surge of passengers due to the upcoming Southeast Asian (SEA) Games and the holiday rush.

In a statement, Immigration Commissioner Jaime Morente said they are projecting around 8,000 delegates, including spectators for the SEA Games which will start on Nov. 30, while a 3% increase in arrivals and departures is expected during the holiday season in December.

“We are certain that there will be more tourists and balikbayans who will be flying in this Christmas,” he said in a statement.

Data from the BI showed that more than 1.5 million passengers arrived in the country and more than 1.2 million left in December 2018.

In anticipation of a surge of travelers in the coming weeks, the bureau said it is enforcing a “no leave, no absences” policy for its officers during the SEA Games and holiday rush.

“Our men have been instructed not to go on leave during the peak season to maximize our manpower,” BI port operations division chief Grifton Medina said.

The bureau also advised passengers anew to arrive at least three hours before their scheduled flights and to bear with possible line queues.

The agency said build-ups can sometimes happen when delayed flights arrive simultaneously especially during peak season.

“We appeal to everyone to bear with us should there be some build-up, which sometimes happens during peak seasons. But you can be assured that processing is now much faster following the numerous improvements we have implemented in our international ports,” Medina said.

Immigration bureau installs more CCTV cams in PH airports

Robie de Guzman   •   July 9, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – The Bureau of Immigration (BI) on Thursday said it is installing additional closed-circuit television cameras (CCTV) in international airports in the country as part of its efforts to improve passenger monitoring capability and prevent corruption among its port personnel.

In a statement, the BI said more than a hundred CCTV cameras were already installed at Terminals 2 and 3 of the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA), Mactan-Cebu International Airports, and Clark International Airport.

In a report to Immigration Commissioner Jaime Morente, bureau’s port operations acting chief Grifton Medina said the CCTVs operate 24-hours a day in all immigration counters at the arrival and departure areas of the four airports, where all activities and movements of people captured by the cameras are recorded on real time basis.

The agency said several CCTV cameras will also be installed at the Davao International Airport, as well as in the ports of Iloilo, Kalibo, Puerto Princesa, Bohol-Panglao, Zamboanga, and Subic.

According to Morente, the project is in compliance with President Rodrigo Duterte’s orders to institute more effective measures to monitor passenger movement and the actions of immigration personnel on duty at the airports.

“These CCTVs are effective deterrents against corruption as our officers will now be wary and discouraged to commit irregularities as all their actions will surely be caught on camera,” the BI Chief said.

Medina also reported that CCTVs previously installed at the NAIA Terminal 1 will be rehabilitated as part of the second phase of the project, which will be followed by the putting up of new cameras in several other international ports.

Aside from the ports, CCTVs were also put up at the bureau’s satellite and extension offices in Quezon City, Taguig and Makati Cities.

Suspected American pedophile nabbed in Pangasinan

Robie de Guzman   •   July 7, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – The Bureau of Immigration (BI) on Tuesday said it has arrested an American wanted by United States authorities for alleged sexual exploitation of a Filipino minor.

In a statement, Immigration Commissioner Jaime Morente identified the suspect as 69-year old Michael Kent Clapper.

Morente said Clapper was arrested on Monday in San Manuel, Pangasinan during a joint operation conducted by operatives from the bureau’s Fugitive Search Unit, Women and Children Protection Center, and the Philippine National Police Region 1.

The BI chief said the arrest was made after the US Embassy sought the agency’s assistance in apprehending clapper due to his “involvement in possible sexual exploitation of a minor in the Philippines.”

Morente said Clapper has allegedly been in an “inappropriate relationship” with a 12-year old girl.

The Embassy also stated that Clapper’s US passport already expired, making him an undocumented alien who is subject to summary deportation.

“He will be deported for being an undocumented and undesirable alien,” Morente said.

“His continued presence here poses a serious risk to our Filipino children, anyone of whom could be his next victim,” he added.

The bureau said Clapper last arrived in the country as a tourist on March 26 last year.

He is temporarily detained at the San Miguel police headquarters pending release of his swab test for COVID-19.

If he tests negative for the virus, he will be committed to the BI Warden Facility in Bicutan, Taguig City where he will remain until he is deported.

Clapper will then be placed in the immigration blacklist and banned from re-entering the country, the BI said.

Immigration bureau reiterates: Pinoy tourists still can’t leave PH due to COVID-19

Aileen Cerrudo   •   July 6, 2020

The Bureau of Immigration (BI) has reiterated that Filipino tourists are still prohibited from traveling outside the country due to the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic.

BI Commissioner Jaime Morente issued a statement after six Filipinos were recently barred from going to Cambodia via a special chartered flight from the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA). The said Filipinos were reported to be tourists with no essential purpose in leaving the country.

“We want to emphasize and reiterate that Filipinos are still prohibited from leaving the country unless they are Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs), holders of study visas or permanent residents in the country of their destination,” Morente said.

BI Port Operations Acting Chief Grifton Medina said the six passengers were offloaded from their flight last June 29 after they informed the immigration officer that they were going to Phnom Penh merely to attend a business meeting on shrimp farming.

The Bureau also said it will continue to implement existing international travel restrictions until these are lifted or relaxed by the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID).

“These travel restrictions are only temporary and we should always bear in mind that the government implemented these measures to protect our countrymen against this deadly coronavirus,” Medina said. AAC

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