Jeju-bound Filipinos won’t be allowed to leave sans visa amid nCoV threat — BI

Robie de Guzman   •   February 7, 2020   •   380

MANILA, Philippines – Filipino tourists bound for Jeju Island in South Korea will no longer be allowed to leave the country without a visa amid the threat of novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV), the Bureau of Immigration (BI) said Friday.

The BI said it is implementing the new policy after the Korean Embassy in Manila informed the bureau that it was temporarily suspending the visa-free entry of tourists from the Philippines and other countries to Jeju Island.

“We have already instructed our immigration officers not to allow the departure of any Filipino bound for Jeju unless the passenger was issued a visa by the Korean embassy,” BI port operations division chief Grifton Medina said in a press statement.

Prior to the suspension, Philippine passport holders were allowed to enter Jeju Island without a visa through direct flights and sea trips.

The bureau said the Korean embassy announced the suspension a day after Filipino health authorities confirmed the first reported death outside China of an nCoV patient at the San Lazaro Hospital in Manila.

“The Korean Government has announced that the visa-free entry to Jeju Island and visa free entry for transit passenger who depart from China, suspended until further notice,” the announcement on its website read.

“In addition, starting February 4, 2020 any foreigner (applicable to all foreigners) that have visited or stayed in the Hubei Province, China – within the last 14 days, are not permitted to enter Korea,” it added.

The Philippine government has also imposed a temporary travel ban on passengers from China, Macau and Hong Kong in an effort to curb the spread of the virus.

Medina said nearly 300 foreigners were turned back at the airports as a result of the travel ban.

“This does not include the ones that did not deplane and reach immigration during the first day of implementation,” he said.

He added that airlines have also bene asked to screen Manila-bound passengers at the port of origin and disallow the boarding of those who have traveled to China, Macau and Hongkong for the past 14 days.

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.

PH returns last batch of hazardous waste to South Korea

Robie de Guzman   •   August 5, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – The remaining shipment containing 6,000 metric tons of household hazardous waste was finally sent back to South Korea from the Port of Cagayan de Oro, the Bureau of Customs (BOC) said Wednesday.

In a statement, the BOC said the shipment, comprised of 80 containers and loaded on MV Mahia, was re-exported to its origin in Pyeongtaek City on August 4.

There-exportation of the wastes resumed on Tuesday after being halted for some time due to the restrictions imposed amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic, it added.

The re-exportation of 251 containers of wastes from South Korea was initiated by the BOC in January but got delayed due to the pandemic, and the failure of the consignee to secure prior import permit from the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR).

The bureau said that waste shipments arrived in the country in 2018 at the Port of Cagayan on two separate occasions. It was consigned to Verde Soko Philippines Industrial Corporation.

The shipments were both declared plastic synthetic flakes but an inspection conducted by the DENR-Environmental Management Bureau revealed that these contained household hazardous wastes.

The bureau ordered the immediate return of the shipments pursuant to Customs Modernization and Tariff Act, Toxic Substances and Hazardous and Nuclear Wastes Control Act, and the Basel Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and their disposal.

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

Marje Pelayo   •   August 4, 2020

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.

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