PH Immigration bureau activates medical team vs COVID-19 at NAIA

Robie de Guzman   •   March 25, 2020   •   763

EPA/RITCHIE B. TONGO

MANILA, Philippines – The Bureau of Immigration (BI) on Wednesday said it has mobilized its personnel with medical background to help immigration frontline officers at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) get protected from the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19).

Immigration Commissioner Jaime Morente said 18 immigration officers, who are registered nurses, will form an ad hoc medical team that will respond to any situation requiring medical attention at the airport.

They will also attend to the medical needs of their fellow officers manning the airport’s immigration counters.

“Our immigration officers, like our health workers, are also in the frontlines of our campaign against the COVID-19. It is only proper that they be protected against this virus and extended medical attention should they need it,” Morente said in a statement.

BI Port Operations Division Chief Grifton Medina said the medical team will be given respective shifts at the NAIA.

The team will also monitor and disallow immigration personnel exhibiting flu-like symptoms to report for duty.

“Fortunately, we have in our ranks several immigration officers who have worked as nurses and have extensive medical experience before they joined the bureau,” Medina said.

“We are now tapping their knowledge and expertise in the fight against COVID-19,” he added.

Meanwhile, Morente reminded the immigration frontline officers who have flu-like symptoms to skip work, and voluntarily go on 14-day self-quarantine as a precautionary measure.

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.

BI warns outbound Filipinos against traffickers amid eased travel restrictions

Marje Pelayo   •   November 9, 2020

MANILA, Philippines — The Bureau of Immigration (BI) on Sunday (November 8) warned Filipinos departing the country to be vigilant against human traffickers who take advantage of the recent easing of travel restrictions.

“We are warning our kababayan not to fall prey to the schemes of these syndicates as they will only put you in harm’s way and expose you to possible abuse,” said BI Commissioner Jaime Morente.

Morente assured that all immigration officers are on guard against these criminals who are preying on innocent Filipinos and sending them illegally abroad.

“Our officers at the airports have been ordered to thwart any attempts by these trafficking syndicates to send their victims abroad in the guise of being tourists,” the BI chief said.  

“We will not allow them to board their flights and they will be sent home,” he added.

Morente said that with the lifting of restrictions on non-essential overseas travel by Filipinos, immigration officers were instructed to be extra vigilant in screening departing passengers and to refer for secondary inspection those with suspicious purposes for going abroad.

Likewise, Filipinos intending to work abroad were cautioned against using fake travel documents and misdeclaring the purpose of their travel.   

“Aside from passports and work visas, departing overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) must have an overseas employment certificate (OEC) from the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) which they have to present to our officers at the airport,” he advised traveling Filipinos.

According to Atty. Candy Tan, BI port operations division chief, even prior to the easing of travel restrictions on outbound non-essential travel by Filipinos, BI officers at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) already intercepted scores of passengers who claimed to be OFWs but were caught with bogus travel papers, including fake visas and OECs and tampered passports.

Commissioner Morente warned that traffickers are taking advantage of the pandemic as many Filipinos are in need of a decent job in this time of crisis. 

“These times of uncertainty could be abused by human traffickers, who will promise greener pastures to our kababayan,” he said. 

“Do not fall for their schemes,” he warned.

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