PH Immigration suspends agency caught duplicating visas

Robie de Guzman   •   January 21, 2020   •   225

MANILA, Philippines – The Bureau of Immigration (BI) on Tuesday said it has suspended the accreditation of an agency for allegedly duplicating approved visa orders.

Immigration Commissioner Jaime Morente said they found an evidence that the agency allowed some Chinese nationals to avail of the visa upon arrival (VUA) facility though fraud, misrepresentation, or false information.

“We received a report from our men stationed at the airports that they have intercepted a number of Chinese nationals who showed fake VUA orders,” Morente said in a statement.

“What these illegals do not know is that we have incorporated VUA records in our computer systems since early last year, hence visas are immediately verified upon presentation to the officer,” he added.

The Immigration chief said the agency, which was not identified pending investigation, was required to submit a written explanation on why its accreditation should not be cancelled and its cash bond should not be forfeited.

He added that they have instituted strict measures to ensure that tampering with VUAs will not happen, following concerns from the public regarding the issuance of said visas.

“Apart from real time system verification, we have also instituted the Special Operations Communications Unit (SOCU) that conducts checking and auditing of VUAs encountered at our ports,” Morente said.

“We will not tolerate those who make a mockery of our policies. We have put in safeguards to ensure that tampering will not happen, do not even think schemes like this will not be caught,” he added.

Last January 8, the Department of Justice issued Department Circular No. 001 ordering tightened procedures on the granting of VUAs to Chinese nationals.

In said order, the department shortened the allowable period of stay for VUA holders to a maximum non-extendible period of 30 days.

The visa upon arrival program was implemented by the BI following a 2017 circular from the DOJ ordering the grant of VUA to Chinese nationals.

The move, as initiated by the Department of Tourism, aimed to provide faster processing to attract more tourists and investors from China, which reports say has the world’s largest number of outbound tourists.

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

Robie de Guzman   •   February 27, 2020

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: Travel ban to South Korea still pending full implementation

Aileen Cerrudo   •   February 27, 2020

SOUTH KOREA TRAVEL BAN

The full implementation of the travel ban to South Korea due to coronavirus disease (COVID-19) threat is still pending, according to the Bureau of Immigration (BI).

The Immigration Bureau said they are still waiting for the resolution from the Inter-Agency Task Force On Emerging Infectious Diseases.

According to BI Spokesperson Dana Sandoval, they still have not received the detailed process and regulation for the said temporary travel ban to South Korea.

“We are awaiting for the copy of the EID resolution, as well as clarification on how to target arriving passengers coming from Daegu and North Gyeongsang,” the Immigration Bureau said in a statement.

Sandoval said the implemented travel ban for the meantime is for departing Filipinos for South Korea.

“Once na maplantsa na po natin ang lahat ng ito maglalabas po tayo agad ng travel advisory listing down any possible flight na pwedeng ma cancel dahil sa travel ban na ito, (Once everything is settled, we will immediately release a travel advisory listing down any possible flights that will be canceled due to the travel ban),” she said.—AAC (with reports from Joan Nano)

PH to deport alleged British pedophile

Robie de Guzman   •   February 27, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – A British national found to be overstaying in the country and is wanted by authorities in his country is set to be deported, the Bureau of Immigration (BI) said Thursday.

In a statement, Commissioner Jaime Morente said the Briton, identified as 58-year old Kevin Victor Ryder, is wanted in the United Kingdom (UK) for allegedly enticing a Filipino girl, a minor, to have sexual relations with him.

Ryder was arrested by operatives of the bureau’s fugitive search unit (FSU) in Angeles City, Pampanga last February 14.

Morente said Ryder is a registered sex offender in the UK as he was convicted in 2006 for child pornography, particularly making and possessing indecent images of children, and sentenced to 14 months in prison.

“We received a request for the UK authorities that he be arrested and deported due to reports that he was grooming a 12-year-old girl in the Philippines,” he said.

BI FSU chief Bobby Raquepo added that Ryder, who had been illegally staying in the Philippines for almost five years, was previously expelled from Thailand for committing sexual offenses against children there.

A check of the BI’s travel database showed that the British national last arrived as a tourist in the country in 2015 and he did not depart ever since.

“We will immediately deport him not only because he is an overstaying alien but because his continued presence here poses a serious threat to our Filipino children,” Morente said.

“He will be blacklisted after we deport him so he will be unable to return to the country.”

The suspect is currently detained at the BI detention facility in Camp Bagong Diwa, Taguig City while awaiting deportation.

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