Immigration bureau installs more CCTV cams in PH airports

Robie de Guzman   •   July 9, 2020   •   275

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.

Immigration personnel with COVID-19 reach 46, says BI chief

Robie de Guzman   •   August 12, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – The Bureau of Immigration (BI) on Wednesday reported that 46 of its employees have tested positive for novel coronavirus disease.

Immigration Commissioner Jaime Morente said that of the 46 personnel infected with the virus, nine have already recovered while 37 are still housed in government-accredited quarantine facilities.

Half of those who contracted the virus are currently assigned at the BI main office in Intramuros, Manila while the rest are stationed in other places such as the international airports in Pasay and Cebu, and the bureau’s satellite and extension offices in Metro Manila, and elsewhere nationwide, he added.

“The good news is that, so far, none of our employees have succumbed to the virus,” Morente said in a statement.

He also said that only one of the bureau’s employees with confirmed COVID-19 infection is presently confined and recovering in a hospital.

The BI Chief also said that the bureau had 93 suspected COVID-19 cases among its workers but half of them were already cleared of the virus after undergoing home quarantine.

Morente said the public should not be surprised that some BI employees were infected by the virus.

“We are one of the few government agencies whose personnel render frontline services, not only in our offices, but in the ports of entry as well. It is unavoidable that some of our employees do come in contact or are exposed to persons who are carriers of this virus,” he said.

The bureau earlier announced that it scaled down operations as Metro Manila and other areas reverted to modified enhanced community quarantine.

However, it assured that its online appointment system remains open to foreigners who are scheduled to leave the country during the community quarantine period.

US national wanted for assault in California nabbed in PH

Robie de Guzman   •   August 11, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – An American national wanted by authorities in California for assault and possession of a deadly weapon is now facing deportation after he was arrested in the country, the Bureau of Immigration (BI) said.

In a statement on Monday, Immigration Commissioner Jaime Morente said the foreigner, identified as Peter Alex Drier, 45, was nabbed during the joint operation of the bureau’s Fugitive Search Unit and the Batangas Police.

Drier was arrested last August 5 in Barangay Dayap Itaas in Laurel, Batangas at the request of the United States’ Embassy in Manila following the cancellation of his passport, he added.

“He will be deported for posing risk to public safety and security due to his profile as a fugitive from justice who used the Philippines as a refuge to evade prosecution for crimes he committed in his country,” he said.

The bureau shared that the US embassy disclosed that Drier has an outstanding arrest warrant issued by the police department in San Diego, California for failure to appear and answer an underlying charge of Assault with a deadly weapon.

It was further learned that Drier was twice arrested last year on charges of Crimes Against Person and Simple Assault by the San Diego police.

The bureau said Drier has been turned over to the temporary custody of the Batangas provincial police pending the conduct result of his COVID-19 swab test.

He will also be placed in the immigration blacklist to prevent him from re-entering the Philippines.

3 South Korean nationals wanted for telecom fraud nabbed in PH

Robie de Guzman   •   August 7, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – Three South Korean nationals wanted by authorities in Seoul for their involvement in telecommunications fraud have been arrested in the country, the Bureau of Immigration (BI) said.

In a statement issued on Thursday, Immigration Commissioner Jaime Morente identified the foreigners as Lim Yeongjun, 36; Kwom Hyeoksoo, 49; and Sim Dong Woo, 49.

Morente said the three were arrested last Tuesday, August 4 by joint operatives from the bureau’s Fugitive Search Unit (FSU) and the Philippine National Police.

They were caught inside the office of the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group at the Southern Police District (SPD) headquarters in Fort Bonifacio, Taguig City where they were taken earlier into custody by policemen.

Morente said the Koreans, who are all overstaying aliens, are subjects of red notices from the Interpol, and that their passports were already revoked by their government.

The BI Chief, however, stressed that the subjects cannot be deported yet as they are facing criminal charges for violating the 1988 Access Device Regulation Act and 2011 Anti-Cybercrime Law.

In fact, the suspects are currently detained at the custodial facility of the CIDG while undergoing criminal investigation prior to the filing of complaints against them in court.

“It is only after these criminal charges are resolved, and upon completion of service of sentence, if they are convicted, that we will be able to deport them,” Morente said.

Information obtained from the BI Interpol Unit revealed that the fugitives operated clandestine call centers in Manila, which they used to trick and defraud their victims.

They allegedly deceived the victims by pretending that they are agents of lending institutions, and persuading the former to repay their loans in advance in order to avail of lower interest.

Korean authorities said the three suspects amassed from their phishing activities more than 80 million won or roughly more than US$67,000, which the unsuspecting victims deposited into the suspects’ bank accounts.

“Consequently, we’re not only able to bring these criminals to justice. We also prevented them from using our country as a refuge so they could evade prosecution for their crimes. Besides, their presence here poses a threat to our people’s welfare and safety,” Morente said.

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