PH Immigration braces for possible upsurge of Filipinos from Middle East

Robie de Guzman   •   January 9, 2020   •   310

(FILE) Filipino household workers who were repatriated from Kuwait arrive at Manila’s international airport, Philippines, 21 February 2018. EPA-EFE/FRANCIS R. MALASIG

MANILA, Philippines – The Bureau of Immigration (BI) on Thursday said it has ordered all its personnel to prepare for the possible influx of Filipino workers returning from the Middle East amid the current tensions between the United States and Iran.

In a statement, the BI said immigration personnel at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport and other international airports nationwide have been told to be ready for a possible mass repatriation of Filipinos should the US-Iran tensions escalate further.

“I have directed our port operations division to see to it that adequate manpower is available to address a possible upsurge in the number of passengers arriving from the Middle East,” Immigration commissioner Jaime Morente said.

He added that the bureau is ready to deploy additional men at the airports if necessary. Airport heads were also instructed to ensure all terminals are fully manned for a smooth processing of possible repatriates.

The bureau issued the order after the government raised Wednesday the alert level 4 in Iraq, requiring Filipino workers to evacuate. Filipinos in Iran, Lebanon and Saudi Arabia were also advised to be alert of potential security threats and to coordinate with the Philippine Embassy.

The evacuation order was issued after Iran launched ballistic missile attacks against two military bases in Iraq that housed US troops, reportedly in retaliation for the death of top Iranian military commander Qasem Soleimani in a drone strike in Baghdad airport last week.

President Rodrigo Duterte earlier sent an envoy to Iran to coordinate with proper authorities and lay down ground work on the evacuation of Filipinos in case of conflict.

Although the alert level 4 in Iran and Lebanon has been downgraded to level 2 Thursday, the government said the evacuation of Filipinos in Iraq will still push through due to the unpredictability of the situation. A deployment ban to Iraq is also in effect.

PH Immigration opens isolation ward for foreign detainees with COVID-19

Robie de Guzman   •   September 21, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – The Bureau of Immigration (BI) on Monday announced it has opened a quarantine facility to house foreign detainees with mild to moderate symptoms of novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19).

The BI said its Ligtas COVID Centre is located inside the New Bilibid Prison Compound in Muntinlupa City.

The facility can accommodate 30 to 60 persons and will be staffed by medical personnel and guarded by the officers of the BI Warden Facility (BIWF) 24/7.

The BI said it is also planning to install CCTV cameras in the ward, similar to those in hospitals, for remote monitoring and to lessen physical contact.

The project is in partnership with the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), the Department of Justice and the Bureau of Corrections, the bureau said.

BIWF chief Remiecar Caguiron said they used to isolate foreign detainees with COVID-19 symptoms in the custodial quarters of their detention facility at Camp Bagong Diwa, adding that this setup poses a big risk for both the personnel and detainees of contracting the disease.

“We have very limited space in our warden facility, and the number of detained aliens remain high. That’s why this isolation ward lessens the risk, and is a big help in ensuring the health and safety of everyone in the BIWF,” she said.

There are currently 315 aliens detained at the BIWF for various immigration offenses.

The number of detainees ballooned following the BI’s crackdown on large companies that hired illegal aliens earlier this year.

The BI earlier reported that they moved to decongest the detention center as early as April this year.

Caguiron said more than a hundred aliens have already been deported since April, while at-risk detainees have been released on bail.

“Overcrowding in the facility is a health risk, and we want to ensure that we mitigate this risk and stop the spread of this disease though the help of this isolation facility,” she said.

The BI said five aliens have so far tested positive for coronavirus but most of them are now recovering from the viral respiratory disease.

Pemberton flies back to US following BI deportation order

Maris Federez   •   September 13, 2020

US Marine Lance Corporal Joseph Scott Pemberton

MANILA, Philippines — The Bureau of Immigration has announced that US Marine Lance Corporal Joseph Scott Pemberton was successfully deported from the Philippines on Sunday morning, September 13.

Immigration spokesperson Dana Sandoval said in an interview that the military plane that carried Pemberton took off from the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) at exactly 9:14 a.m. He was accompanied by members of the US military and representatives of the US embassy.

The BI official, however, stressed authorities cannot disclose the specific state of Pemberton’s destination for security reasons.

Pemberton was convicted of homicide for killing Filipino transgender Jennifer Laude in 2014.

He was released by virtue of the absolute pardon granted to him by President Rodrigo Duterte after five years into his service of a six-to-10-year prison sentence.

Meanwhile, the US Embassy in the Philippines on Sunday also released an official statement on Pemberton’s release.

“All legal proceedings in the case took place under Philippine jurisdiction and law,” it read.

“Lance Cpl. Pemberton fulfilled his sentence as ordered by Philippine courts and he departed the Philippines on September 13,” it added. — /mbmf

Bureau of Immigration takes over custody of Pemberton

Robie de Guzman   •   September 11, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – The custody of pardoned US Marine Lance Corporal Joseph Scott Pemberton has been transferred on Friday to the Bureau Immigration (BI) from the Bureau of Corrections (BuCor).

Pemberton was turned over to the BI custody around 11 a.m. and his BuCor guards were recalled to the New Bilibid Prisons.

The Immigration bureau earlier said it requested to take over the custody of Pemberton to complete the deportation proceedings against him.

The deportation order was issued against Pemberton in 2015 for being an undesirable alien when he was sentenced for the 2014 murder of Filipino transgender Jennifer Laude.

Although he is already under the Immigration bureau, Pemberton will remain at his detention facility inside Camp Aguinaldo as he completes the requirements for his exit from the country.

Foreign nationals who are up for deportation are required to submit clearances from the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) and regional trial court as proof that they have no more pending criminal or civil cases.

Once these requirements are submitted, the deportee’s flight will then be arranged and scheduled by the BI.

According to BI spokesperson Melvin Mabulac, the immigration legal division has started processing Pemberton’s deportation, and the NBI has already taken his fingerprints and photo for the clearance.

“Ang importante kasi sa implementation ng deportation order, stipulated kasi doon kung ano ang flight na sasakyan at anong araw aalis at anong travel document ang submitted. Very specific yun eh sa implementation ng deportation order,” he said.

Aside from NBI clearance, Pemberton is also waiting for the result of the COVID-19 swab test conducted on him earlier this week.

The United States Embassy in Manila is also expected to submit Pemberton’s travel documents, including passport, itinerary or the actual date of exit from the country depends on his flight arrangements as he is a military personnel of the US. – RRD (with details from Correspondent Dante Amento)

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