PH Immigration chief revamps NAIA personnel following alleged ‘pastillas’ modus

Robie de Guzman   •   February 27, 2020   •   459

MANILA, Philippines – Immigration Commissioner Jaime Morente on Thursdayordered a total revamp of immigration personnel at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) following the alleged ‘pastillas’ scheme controversy.

In a statement, Morente announced the reshuffle of immigration officers in NAIA Terminals 1 to 3 is “effective immediately” is in compliance of President Rodrigo Duterte’s directive.

The revamp covers Port Operations Division (POD) deputies, and terminal heads down to counter personnel, except the POD chief, which will be decided by Department of Justice, Morente said.

“This practice of rotating and changing assignments on a regular and programmed basis is both a means to enable better performance and encourage skill upgrades, as well as a necessary precaution against possible avenues for graft and corruption,” he said.

The bureau implemented the move amid probe into the alleged scheme involving immigration personnel assigned in airports who are accused of receiving pay-offs from syndicates of tour operators to facilitate the entry of fugitives and offshore gaming operations workers from China.  

At least 19 immigration personnel have been put under the Administration holding office pending the result of the investigation.

“These changes in management responsibilities and section assignments in our airports are part of the on-going actions that are being taken to address the recent resurgence of unauthorized activities and irregularities, as major steps have already been made to address these issues since 2016,” Morente said.

“These irregularities and their consequences impact on morale and detract from the professionalism and service that the men and women of the Bureau of Immigration are pledged to provide,” he added.

The BI chief also said that new protocols in the conduct of secondary inspections in open areas have been activated for transparency.

He also assured that appropriate disciplinary and administrative sanctions will be implemented according to the findings and decisions of the proper courts, both administrative and criminal.

Morente likewise said the bureau has south the assistance of the DOJ in the investigation to include private entities that act as recruiters of aliens to “break the chain of corruption and put an end to the illegal scheme.”

“These agencies, as mentioned in the Senate hearing, have counterparts both in China and in the Philippines, who reportedly receive bulk of the grease money given by Chinese nationals who avail of said VIP treatment,” he said.

“We see this as one of the major root causes, as these agencies are the source of the corruption,” he added. – RRD (with details from Correspondent Harlene Delgado)

BI field offices to close for disinfection, will resume on April 13

Robie de Guzman   •   April 7, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – The Bureau of Immigration (BI) has announced that the normal operations in its provincial field offices that are closed for disinfection will resume on April 13.

In a statement on Monday, Immigration Commissioner Jaime Morente announced that some of its provincial operations will be temporarily suspended this week to allow the conduct of “much-needed disinfecting” following the spread of novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19).

He said this is to protect the bureau personnel and the transacting public from contracting the disease.

“This move was done after a careful study, and it will definitely not affect our operations,” Morente said.

“Most offices have zero to two transactions per day due to the quarantine, add that to the fact that most international airports have also temporarily ceased operations,” he added.

Morente, however, clarified that immigration offices near operating international airports, as well as their main office in Intramuros will remain open to cater to urgent matters.

“Many of the foreign nationals who are leaving depart via sweeper flights organized by their embassies. Our key offices shall remain open to coordinate this, including our airport and seaport operations,” he said.

He advised foreign nationals to contact the BI’s National Operations Center through phone numbers +63285243769 and +63284652400 or via email at xinfo@immigration.gov.ph, immigPH@gmail.com or binoc_immigration@hotmail.com.

The bureau may also be reached through its social media accounts Facebook.com/officialbureauofimmigration and Facebook.com/immigration.helpline.ph.

Japanese arrested for working in PH without permit

Robie de Guzman   •   March 30, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – The Bureau of Immigration (BI) on Monday said its operatives have apprehended a Japanese national in Davao City for working without proper permit and visa.

In a statement, Immigration Commissioner Jaime Morente said the Japanese man, identified as 45-year old Kiyoshi Yokoyama, was arrested last March 18 at an office in Davao City where he was allegedly employed as general manager.

Yokoyama was arrested after his staff complained of maltreatment.

According to BI intelligence chief Fortunato Manahan Jr., a female employee had complained that last January 3, Yokoyama threatened to physically harm her “in a fit of rage.”

The incident was reportedly witnessed by other employees.

“She said she felt very humiliated that all she could do was cry,” Manahan said.

He also stated that other than disclosing the Japanese national’s lack of work permit, the employees also demanded that Yokoyama be deported “for being anti-Filipino because of his oppressive and abusive conduct towards company employees.”

The bureau said that a check of Yokoyama’s travel history showed that he has been frequenting the country as a tourist since 2013 and that there is no record that he obtained or applied for a working visa with the BI.

A verification made with the Department of Labor and Employment office in Region 10 also showed that Yokoyama did not secure or apply for an alien employment permit.

“We cannot tolerate the continued stay of foreigners who blatantly violate our laws by working without permit and oppress Filipino workers,” Morente said.

Holders of temporary visitors visa may get ECCs at int’l airports —BI

Robie de Guzman   •   March 28, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – Holders of temporary visitors visa who have stayed in the country for less than a year may temporarily get their Emigration Clearance Certificates (ECC) at any international airports in the country, the Bureau of Immigration (BI) said.

In a statement, Immigration Commissioner Jaime Morente said the measure follows the implementation of enhanced community quarantine in Luzon to stem the spread of the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19).

An ECC is issued to temporary visitors who have stayed in the country for more than six months, and to holders of residence, work, or students visas who wish to leave the country for good.

Morente said the bureau has also suspended biometrics capturing and fingerprinting, and the issuance of Special Registration Numbers (SSRN) as requirements for the processing of ECCs to ensure compliance with physical distancing directives.

“The Bureau complied with the directive from Malacañang by continuing to operate with a skeletal workforce,” he said in a statement.

“We have put this temporary measure in place to prevent the influx of foreign nationals leaving the country who will be applying to process their ECCs, essentially minimizing physical contact with the traveling public,” he added.

Morente said they will still counter match the applications with their derogatory database to ensure that no foreigner with a pending case will be able to leave the country.

“We will still conduct derogatory records checking before giving clearance to ensure that any foreign national who wishes to leave the country has no pending obligation with the government,” he said.

The bureau earlier issued an advisory suspending several transactions in Luzon, including tourist visa extensions except for foreign nationals intending to depart the country.

In the said directive, aliens whose visas will expire during the enhanced community quarantine may file for extension after the quarantine period without penalty.

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