PH Immigration to implement order suspending all flights from UK starting Dec. 24

Robie de Guzman   •   December 23, 2020   •   478

MANILA, Philippines – The Bureau of Immigration (BI) on Wednesday said it will be implementing the resolution of the government’s task force on COVID-19 response, temporarily banning all flights from the United Kingdom (UK) starting December 24.

Immigration Commissioner Jaime Morente said that under the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-MEID) Resolution No. 90, all flights from the UK until December 31.

This means that all passengers who have been to the UK in the last 14 days are temporarily banned from entering the country. The travel restriction also covers transiting passengers from the UK.

“I have instructed a strict implementation of our 100% passport inspection to ensure that we are able to detect anyone who has been to the UK in the last 14 days,” Morente said in a statement.

Those who arrived from the UK before December 24 shall be allowed entry, but will be referred to the Bureau of Quarantine (BOQ) and the One Stop Shop for implementation of strict quarantine and testing protocols.

Filipinos will also be allowed to enter the country even after December 24, but will also be referred to the BOQ and the One Stop Shop.

The BI said that following the IATF’s resolution, outbound travel to the United Kingdom remains allowed, subject to the presentation of a confirmed round trip ticket for short-term our tourist visa holders, travel and health insurance to cover travel disruptions in case of Covid-19 infections during their allowable period of stay abroad, and signing at the ports of a declaration acknowledging the risks involved in traveling, including the risk of delay in their return trip.

The government imposed the ban following reports about a new coronavirus strain detected in the United Kingdom.

BI: Bahraini man wanted for sex crimes nabbed in PH

Robie de Guzman   •   February 26, 2021

MANILA, Philippines – A Bahraini national who is facing rape charges in his country has been arrested in the Philippines, the Bureau of Immigration (BI) said.

BI Commissioner Jaime Morente identified the foreigner as Alsendi Waleed Abdulla Hamad, 43. He was arrested on Tuesday in Dasmariñas, Cavite by operatives from the bureau’s Fugitive Search Unit (FSU).

Morente said Hamad was arrested on orders of the Department of Justice (DOJ) following instruction to verify the presence and status here of the said Bahraini national and, if warranted, to initiate deportation proceedings against him.

Hamad is the subject of an arrest warrant issued by the public prosecutor’s office of Bahrain for sexual assault and possession of pornographic materials. Consequently, an Interpol red notice against him was issued two years ago, he added.

“He will be summarily deported as his presence here and record as a sex offender pose a serious threat to our people,” the BI chief said in a statement on Thursday.

Information from the BI showed that Hamad fled to the Philippines in March 2016 after being accused of sexually assaulting a female victim in his apartment.

He is being detained at the BI warden facility in Camp Bagong Diwa, Taguig City pending issuance of the order for his deportation by the bureau’s board of commissioners, the bureau said.

Hamad will also be placed on the immigration blacklist and banned from re-entering the Philippines, it added.

UK declines PH offer to deploy more Filipino nurses in exchange for vaccines

Aileen Cerrudo   •   February 25, 2021

MANILA, Philippines—The United Kingdom (UK) government has declined the offer of the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) to deploy more nurses to the UK in exchange for vaccines.

UK Ambassador to the Philippines Daniel Pruce said the recruitment of nurses and distribution of COVID-19 vaccines are two separate issues.

“We’ve got no plans to link vaccines with those conversations around the recruitment of nurses. You know those two strands of conversation I think continue but as I’ve said again we have no plans to link those two issues,” he said during a virtual conference.

DOLE Silvestre Bello III proposed forming an agreement with the UK to lift the deployment cap of healthcare workers, provided the UK would allocate vaccines for them. Bello also made the same proposal with Germany.

DOLE Information and Publication Service (IPS) Director Rolly Francia clarified the proposal was to make sure the nurses are safe when deployed abroad and not for the country to have additional supply of COVID-19 vaccines. This was after the proposal drew ire for making nurses look like ‘commodities’ to be exchanged for vaccines.

“What Secretary Bello wants is to ensure that the nurse gets vaccinated if ever the request for an exemption in the cap would be granted by the President,” Francia said.

Nevertheless, Ambassador Pruce said he will meet with Bello in the coming weeks to further discuss the issue. AAC (with reports from Janice Ingente)

Senators want pilot testing of 100 schools for in-person classes

Robie de Guzman   •   February 25, 2021

MANILA, Philippines – Several senators are pushing for the conduct of pilot testing of face-to-face classes, citing the need for immediate experience to help fine-tune the reopening of physical classes in schools amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Senator Francis Pangilinan urged the Department of Education (DepEd) to pilot the in-person classes to an initial 100 schools instead of the suggested 1,605.

“Kung mayroong UK variant at natatakot doon sa pagkalat, e di bawasan natin ang pilot areas, gawin nating isang daan muna. Ang importante, mayroon tayong pagkukunan ng karanasan ngayon pa lang at hindi iyong pagdating doon sa dulo saka natin gagawin dahil nakaangkla tayo sa isang libo,” Pangilinan said in a statement.

DepEd Undersecretary Nepomuceno Malaluan earlier said that they initially chose 1,065 schools, or five schools per division, to participate in the dry run of face-to-face classes.

Malaluan said that this figure is equivalent to only over two percent of the more than 47,000 public schools in the country.

“Baka naman pupuwedeng mayroon kayong alternative just to be able to get a system going and be able to fine-tune. Ang importante napa-pilot at nakikita iyong mga gaps so that when you expand it even to 1,065, you already have the experience of 500 or 300 to work around and to work on the necessary adjustments,” Pangilinan said.

“We need the experience now, we need the lessons drawn now because we don’t have the luxury of time,” he added.

Senator Sherwin Gatchalian, chairperson of Senate committee on basic education, arts, and culture, also expressed support for the dry run of in-person classes.

“’’Di naman po ibig sabihin na kinancel yung face-to-face, titigil na rin tayo sa pilot schools. This is a good way for our scientists to study what can be done to mitigate the effects of COVID-19,” he said in a separate statement.

DepEd earlier proposed the pilot testing of limited face-to-face classes in 1,605 schools, citing an internal DepEd survey that clamor is from the learners themselves.

The pilot testing was scheduled in January but it was postponed by President Rodrigo Duterte due to the continuing threat of COVID-19.

DepEd made a fresh bid for the resumption of physical classes in areas classified as low-risk for COVID-19 transmission this month, citing a survey that showed more than 50% of students were in favor of attending face-to-face classes.

It was still rejected by Duterte as he stressed that classes will only resume once the vaccination against COVID-19 starts.

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