Immigration braces for passenger influx during SEA Games, holiday season

Robie de Guzman   •   November 22, 2019   •   149

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.

PH Navy’s Melcah Jen Caballero wins second gold in SEA Games

Aileen Cerrudo   •   December 10, 2019

Philippine Navy Seaman 2nd Class Melcah Jen Caballero has clinched her second gold in the Southeast Asian (SEA) Games.

Caballero topped in the women’s lightweight single sculls rowing competition on Sunday (December 8). Thailand and Indonesia landed in second and third place, respectively.

Caballero got her first gold medal after winning the women’s lightweight doubles sculls with teammate Joanie Delgaco.—AAC

PH Immigration to deport 4 Indian nationals nabbed in Mindanao

Robie de Guzman   •   December 9, 2019

MANILA, Philippines – The Bureau of Immigration (BI) on Monday said it has arrested four Indian nationals for working as money lenders with expired and invalid visas in Mindanao.

In a statement, Immigration Commissioner Jaime Morente said the four Indian nationals were arrested on Dec. 3 at Purok Malakas, Brgy. San Isidro in General Santos City in an operation jointly launched by operatives from the Mindanao Intelligence task group of Immigration’s intelligence division and the Philippine National Police.

Morente said the operation against illegal aliens in Mindanao was conducted following complaints about foreigners engaged in a “5-6” lending scheme in the area.

The operatives initially rounded up 10 Indian nationals but six were recommended for release after they presented valid visas.

“However, we have recommended that the six still undergo further investigation to verify if they are still working with the companies that petitioned their visas,” said BI intelligence officer Melody Gonzales, who led the arresting team.

“The other four Indians presented expired and invalid visas and were found to be working as money lenders,” the bureau added.

The four arrested foreigners are presently detained at the Immigration district office in Davao City pending deportation proceedings.

The bureau, meanwhile, called on the public to help in its campaign against foreigners who violate the country’s immigration laws.  

“We reiterate our appeal to the public not to hesitate in reporting the presence of illegal aliens in any part of the country, including the far-flung areas of the country,” Morente said.

Still a legend: Efren ‘Bata’ Reyes ends SEA Games campaign with bronze

Aileen Cerrudo   •   December 6, 2019

Billiard icon Efren ‘Bata’ Reyes

Billiards legend Efren ‘Bata’ Reyes ends his 30th Southeast Asian (SEA) Games campaign with bronze medal after getting beaten by Vietnamese’s Ngo Dinh Nai.

With a score of 100-14, in the one-cushion carom semi-final, Reyes automatically settles for third place.

When asked during an interview with reporters if he will still play in the future, Reyes said he might just coach for the Philippine team.

“Baka coach na lang. Baka mag-coach nalang kami, kaming dalawa ni pareng Django [Bustamante] (We might coach, me and Django Bustamante),” he said.—AAC

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