PH resumes stamping on Chinese passports with nine-dash line map

Marje Pelayo   •   November 7, 2019   •   201

MANILA, Philippines — The Bureau of Immigration (BI) on Wednesday (November 6) announced that it will resume stamping of Philippine visa on Chinese regular e-passports.

“We support this policy update of the DFA (Department of Foreign Affairs),” BI Commissioner Jaime H. Morente said in a statement.

The BI stopped stamping visas directly on Chinese passports in 2012 under the administration of former President Benigno Aquino III in protest to the map of China imprinted on it which shows China’s aggressive claims over the South China Sea using the undefined demarcation line referred to as the “nine-dash line” that encompasses the contested territories such as the Spratly Islands and the Scarborough Shoal.

This claim was invalidated in 2016 by the Permanent Court of Arbitration saying it has no legal basis.

But China has never accepted the international court’s ruling in favor of the Philippines but instead, carried on with its reclamation activities in the disputed territories.

The practice of using a separate sheet for Chinese travelers came after a month-long standoff between Chinese and Philippine vessels in the Scarborough Shoal in that same year.

In a memorandum issued by Immigration Commissioner Jaime Morente, immigration officers are instructed to affix their stamps adjacent to the Philippine visa of a regular e-passport presented by a Chinese passenger in compliance with the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) foreign service circular.

This change in policy, Morente said, will address security concerns associated with stamping Philippine visas on a separate paper.

“We support this policy update of the DFA,” said Morente.

“In the past, we have also expressed security concerns over the old practice because sheets of papers can easily be lost,” he added.

Chinese passports to get Philippine visa stamps before entry

Marje Pelayo   •   August 6, 2019

MANILA, Philippines – Chinese nationals will soon have their passports stamped with Philippine visa before entering the country.

The new immigration policy will be implemented after President Rodrigo Duterte approved such recommendation from Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. in lieu of the practice of putting the visa on a piece of paper.

This was confirmed by presidential spokesperson Salvador Panelo as part of the discussions during the Cabinet meeting in Malacañang on Monday night (August 6).

Under the new visa issuance policy, any foreign national who wishes to enter the country will have to undergo vetting process by the Philippine Consulate offices before a visa is issued.

Meanwhile, Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra assured that the Department of Justice (DOJ) will strictly implement immigration measures so that no Chinese nationals will exceed their allowable stay in the country. — with details from Rosalie Coz

Foreigners joining SONA rally will face deportation, BI warns

Marje Pelayo   •   July 18, 2019

FILE PHOTO: Different militant groups merged at Liwasan Bonifacio to air their concern in improving the workforce and better labor conditions. (Ramir Tilaon/PVI)

MANILA, Philippines — The Bureau of Immigration (BI) reminds foreigners to refrain from joining any political activity as they are not allowed under Philippine law.

On its Facebook page, the BI warned legal aliens that they may face deportation if they do so as political protests are expected during the fourth state of the nation address (SONA) of President Rodrigo Duterte on Monday (July 22).

“We are sending this warning to avoid a repeat of the cases wherein we had to deport foreign protesters,” BI Commissioner Jaime Morente said following incidents of deportation of foreign nationals who took part previous mass actions.

The BI Chief said foreigners who are visitors in the Philippines are not given political rights and privileges of Filipino citizens.

“Follow our laws. It is very simple and clear. Foreign visitors are not allowed to partake in political demonstrations. We allowed your stay in the Philippines, please respect our government and our laws,” he added.

Several foreign nationals have been deported for joining and supporting political events in the past.

The most prominent was Australian nun Patricia Fox who, in 2018, was denied renewal of missionary visa for violating the conditions of her stay and participating in partisan politics.

“If found guilty, we will blacklist these foreigners, effectively barring them from re-entering the Philippines,” Morente warned.

BI intercepts 13 holders of fake airline tickets bound for HK

Marje Pelayo   •   July 16, 2019

FILE PHOTO: Ninoy Aquino International Airport

MANILA, Philippines – The Bureau of Immigration (BI) has warned the public to be wary of scammers following the arrest of 13 Filipino passengers bound for Hong Kong caught in possession of fake airline tickets at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA).

BI Port Operations Division Chief Grifton Medina said the passengers were intercepted last Monday (July 8) at the airline counter of Cathay Pacific at the NAIA 3 terminal.

According to the BI, the passengers were scammed and only found out about it at the airport after the attending airline personnel discovered that their tickets were not encoded in their system.

“It seems that they are victims of a scammers who prey on the public by selling fake tickets at cheap prices to entice their victims,” Medina said.

According to the initial investigation by the BI’s Travel Control and Enforcement Unit (TCEU), the passengers pointed at one of their woman companions as the person who enticed them to buy the plane tickets.

The woman, however, said she was not aware that the tickets were bogus.

She also couldn’t present credentials of the person who offered her the bogus tickets whom she knew only by the name ‘Jennifer’.

BI TCEU Chief Timotea Barizo confirmed also that their hotel bookings were cancelled as well.

“They were also allegedly told to wear T-shirts bearing the name of a herbal product during their trip and were instructed to take off the shirts after they are cleared by Immigration,” said Barizo.

“It was done to make it seem like they were on an official company trip abroad. Why would they be instructed to misrepresent themselves if there was no ill intention?” she added.

Barizo suspects that they have been victimized by illegal recruiters who promised jobs abroad.

All 13 passengers were eventually turned over to the Inter-Agency Council Against Trafficking (IACAT) for assistance and further investigation.

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