Korean gov’t to help identify passengers from coronavirus-hit areas — BI

Robie de Guzman   •   February 28, 2020   •   938

MANILA, Philippines – The government of South Korea has pledged to issue a certification to distinguish travelers coming from North Gyeongsang province, Daegu and Cheongdo in an effort to curb the spread of novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19), the Bureau of Immigration (BI) said Friday.

The BI made the statement as it begins to implement the country’s expanded travel restrictions to include the three areas, which reported the most number of coronavirus infections in South Korea.

“While it is a challenge to identify which passengers from South Korea actually came from said areas, the Korean government is doing measures to ensure that the virus stops spreading to nearby regions,” BI port operations division chief Grifton Medina said in a statement.

The Korean government earlier pledged to take maximum quarantine steps in Daegu and its surrounding province to contain the virus.

The immigration bureau said the expansion of travel ban follows the recommendation of the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases to include restrictions of inbound and outbound travel from the said regions.

Immigration Commissioner Jaime Morente, however, clarified that “it is not a total ban for travelers from South Korea, but for travelers coming from North Gyeongsang province, Daegu and Cheongdo only.”

Foreigners coming from South Korea will be screened to see if they are coming from said regions, the BI said.

Immigration officers have been instructed to require passengers arriving from South Korea to produce their resident registration certificate and national identification.

The bureau also said it has sought the assistance of airline companies, requiring them to collect and disclose to immigration authorities the full itineraries of passengers with a travel history to Korea within the last 14 days.

“Similar to earlier bans, airlines have been advised not to board said passengers in flights to the Philippines,” Medina said.

Outbound Filipinos are also temporarily banned from traveling the entire South Korea. Only Korean permanent resident visa holders, overseas Filipino workers, and student visa holders are allowed to return to the said country.

Exempted from the travel ban are arriving Filipinos, their foreign spouse and children, Philippine permanent resident visa holders, and members of the diplomatic corps.

“What’s different in this ban is that transiting passengers are allowed, as recommended by the task force, as long as they do not pass through North Gyeongsang Province, Daegu, and Cheongdo,” said Medina.

The bureau also clarified that it did not deliberately delay the implementation of the travel ban as they first needed to thresh out issues to ensure its proper implementation.

BI to implement changes in travel restrictions asap

Maris Federez   •   November 23, 2020

MANILA, Philippines — The Bureau of Immigration (BI) on Saturday (Nov. 21) announced that they will be carrying out changes in the country’s travel restrictions effective immediately. 

In a statement released to the media, BI Commissioner Jaime Morente said that with the latest resolution of the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-MEID), the bureau has carried out the expanded coverage of foreign nationals that are allowed to enter the country amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Effective immediately, treaty traders and treaty investors, or those issued visas pursuant to Section 9(d) of the Philippine Immigration Act of 1940 are allowed to enter the country,” said Morente.

Section 9(d) visa holders are those alien businessmen who are in the country to carry on trade of commerce between the Philippines and the country to which he is a national of, or invest in an enterprise in the country, the statement said.

Also entitled to the same visa are the alien’s spouse and minor children, as well as the alien’s employees, it further said.

It added that other foreigners allowed to enter the country are those with visas issued by the Authority of the Freeport Area of Bataan, Cagayan Economic Zone Authority, and Clark Development Corporation. —/mbmf

BI cancels leaves for Immigration port personnel December holidays

Robie de Guzman   •   November 18, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – Vacation leaves for Immigration personnel assigned in international airports nationwide have been cancelled to attend to the traveling public during the holiday period in December, the Bureau of Immigration (BI) said Wednesday.

In a statement, BI Commissioner Jaime Morente said port personnel have been banned from going on leave starting next month to ensure that sufficient number of immigration officers are on duty during the upcoming holiday season.

The ban on filing of applications for vacation leave will take effect on Dec. 1 and end on Jan. 15, 2021.

The leave prohibition applies to all immigration personnel assigned at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) as well as the airports in Mactan Cebu and Clark, Pampanga, Kalibo, Iloilo, Davao, Laoag and the Zamboanga international seaport, the BI said.

During the 45-day period, no application for leave or authority to travel abroad by any of the said BI port employees will be entertained or approved, the bureau added.

“We have to make sure that our immigration booths at the airports are adequately manned in anticipation of an increase in the number of international travelers who will enter and exit the country during that period,” Morente said.

Several immigration officers have also been detailed as office administrative staff to be on call and ready to perform supervisory and primary counter duties should the need arise, the BI said.

He, however, said that the bureau only expects a slight to moderate rise in the number of passengers who will depart or arrive from abroad due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The BI chief noted that many countries worldwide, including the Philippines, have not yet lifted the travel restrictions imposed when the pandemic started last March.

“Thus, we are confident that the number of immigration officers currently deployed at the ports are enough to facilitate the efficient conduct of immigration formalities for arriving and departing passengers,” Morente said.

Duterte summons BI personnel allegedly involved in pastillas controversy

Aileen Cerrudo   •   November 10, 2020

President Rodrigo Duterte on Monday (November 10) summoned to Malacañang the forty-four Bureau of Immigration (BI) personnel allegedly involved in the ‘pastillas’ controversy.

According to Department of Justice (DOJ) Secretary Menardo Guevarra, Duterte handed each of the BI personnel peso bills that were wrapped to look like pastillas. The said personnel were suspended by the Office of the Ombudsman (OMB) due to their alleged involvement in the ‘pastillas scheme’.

“He wanted them to eat the pastillas, but did not insist ‘out of deference to the secretary of justice who was also present’. He said, either you eat it or give it to the first beggar you see,” Guevarra said in a statement.

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said the stunt was to reiterate the President does not tolerate corruption.

Nagsabi rin po ang president na dapat matigil na ang korupsyon, at nagsabi rin ang president na kayo’y nakasuhan na, depensahan ninyo ang sarili ninyo (The President also said that corruption should be curbed and he also said you will face charges. Defend yourself),” he said.

Meanwhile, in a statement, the Bureau of Immigration (BI) said the passage of the Immigration Act will help curb corruption in the agency. The act aims to respond to the concerns of Immigration personnel with regard to salary.

“The new law, which is already in Congress, will answer salary woes, remove systemic issues, plug loopholes in policies, update fines and penalties, ensure division of power, and confer to the Commissioner the proper disciplinary powers,” the statement reads. -AAC (with reports from Dante Amento)

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