PH to implement revised travel restrictions on Feb. 16 – BI

Robie de Guzman   •   February 15, 2021   •   176

MANILA, Philippines – The Bureau of Immigration (BI) on Monday said it is ready to implement the resolution of the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-MEID) expanding the list of foreigners allowed entry to the Philippines.

The IATF Resolution No. 98 states that beginning February 16, all foreign nationals with visas issued on or prior to March 20, 2020 and are still valid and existing at the time of entry.

These include foreigners with valid working visas, student visas, Special Visa for Employment Generation, Special Investors Residence Visa, Special Resident and Retirees Visa, and Temporary Visitor’s Visa as long as they present an entry exemption document to the Bureau of Immigration upon arrival.

“Starting tomorrow may mga bago po tayong adjustments dito po sa ating travel restrictions nagdagdag po tayo ng mga bagong categories na maaring papasukin sa bansa following po itong resolusyon ng IATF,” said Dana Sandoval, BI spokesperson.

Arriving foreign nationals should have pre-booked accommodation for at least six nights in an accredited quarantine hotel/facility and be subject to COVID-19 testing at the quarantine hotel/facility on the sixth day from date of arrival.

Sandoval said they are closely coordinating with the Department of Tourism (DOT) in the implementation of the revised travel restrictions to ensure that arriving foreigners have authentic booking accommodation.

The bureau warned that those who were cleared for entry but subsequently found to have presented a fake booking for a quarantine facility by the DOT will be referred for deportation proceedings.

“Hindi lang po sa deportation, blacklisting po dito sa bansa for being an undesirable alien meaning hindi na po natin sila papasukin dito sa bansa. So, it will serve po as a warning to foreign nationals who might want to evade being qurantined as required by the government,” Sandoval said.

Despite the expansion of the list of allowable foreigners in the country, the Immigration bureau said it is not expecting a major upsurge since the number of arriving passengers remain controlled.

Arrivals are also subject to the maximum capacity of inbound passengers set by the National Task Force for Covid-19. – RRD (with details from Correspondent Dante Amento)

BI warns OFWs vs extortionists, fixers posing as immigration officers

Robie de Guzman   •   February 24, 2021

MANILA, Philippines – The Bureau of Immigration (BI) on Wednesday warned overseas Filipinos workers against a modus involving fixers pretending to be immigration officers to extort money from their unsuspecting victims.

Immigration Commissioner Jaime Morente issued the warning citing a complaint that they received from an aspiring OFW last December 2020.

“We have received a complaint sometime in December regarding a Filipino worker who wanted to depart to Dubai under a tourist visa, but was intercepted at the airport,” Morente said in a statement.

“An immigration officer who introduced himself as James approached her and offered to escort her for a fee,” he added.

According to the complainant, “James” claimed that he was assigned as an immigration officer at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport, and had the capacity to allow the victim’s departure.

The victim said she initially transferred P7,000, followed by P28,500 through bank transfer to the suspect. She again later transferred P39,500 upping her total transfer to P75,000 and attempted to depart but was intercepted again.

“The victim tried to ask for her money back from the suspect but he made excuses about it. Upon verification with our records, we had no such employee,” Morente said.

Morente said they had sought the help of government intelligence agencies, as well as the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) in pursuing the case against the fixer.

“I am unable to disclose the details of the said fixer, but we received intelligence information yesterday about him. We already have his identity,” he said.

“I have instructed our Travel Control and Enforcement Unit and Intelligence Division to coordinate with the NBI and ensure that this person faces the harshest penalties of the law,” he added.

Morente urged OFWs not to entertain offers of fixers and extortionists so as not to fall prey to their schemes.

“They are sweet-talkers that will entice you to attempt to work illegally, but we have already measures in place to prevent that from happening,” he said.

“Report any fixing and extortion attempts to the police to make sure that they are arrested and they are prevented from victimizing other people again,” he added.

NBI tapped to probe cohorts of alleged fixer nabbed in BI premises

Robie de Guzman   •   February 22, 2021

MANILA, Philippines – The Bureau of Immigration (BI) has ordered an investigation into the possible cohorts of an alleged fixer who was recently arrested within the bureau’s premises.

Immigration Commissioner Jaime Morente said he has sought the assistance of the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) to probe as well the three Chinese nationals involved in the incident for the initiation of their deportation proceedings if they have committed immigration violations.

“We are coordinating with the NBI in this investigation to see if there are any cohorts inside the Bureau, and to strengthen protocols to prevent illegal fixers from extorting aliens,” Morente said in a statement on Sunday.

The move follows the arrest last Thursday of a law firm employee, identified as Vivan Lara, at the BI’s main office for alleged extortion of three Chinese nationals.

Lara was reportedly an employee of a law office accredited to transact with the bureau. But documents show that her personal accreditation already expired in January and that she is no longer authorized to transact with the BI.

Local media reports stated that Lara was arrested after allegedly receiving P900,000 marked money to process the passports and visas of the three Chinese nationals.

Morente said the arrested individual has been ordered barred from entering and transacting in any BI office, adding that a fact-finding committee has been created to look into the incident.

“We are also investigating the breach of security protocols inside the BI building, as she was able to enter despite her ID expiring last month, as well as use an office for her transaction,” he said.

“We had our men scan CCTV footage to look into possible accomplices of Lara, as well as ensure that the BI grounds are rid of fixers,” he added.

Morente also said that the accreditation of the Calalang Law Office, Lara’s alleged employer, has also been suspended indefinitely, pending the results of the investigation.

The BI stressed that it has strict protocols in place in allowing accredited entities to enter the building. Aside from an odd-even scheme for social distancing, they may only transact at designated windows.

“Only authorized personnel may enter offices. Unauthorized entry (of accredited entities) will merit revocation of accreditation,” he said.

Morente also noted that procedures, timelines and fees are found in the BI’s website at www.immigration.gov.ph.

“We are very transparent with our procedures. All fees are found in our website to prevent unscrupulous individuals from tricking aliens into paying exorbitant amounts for their application,” he said.

“We are beefing up our strict no fixers policy. We will not tolerate fixing of any kind. Any fixer caught by our men will be turned over to the police for the filing of criminal charges,” he added.

Immigration Bureau bars entry of 17 Chinese nationals

Aileen Cerrudo   •   February 22, 2021

MANILA, Philippines—The Bureau of Immigration (BI) has barred the entry of 17 Chinese nationals from two separate flights due to inconsistent statements.

The Immigration Bureau reported that the 16 Chinese nationals were intercepted at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) Terminal 3.

They came on board a Pan Pacific Airlines flight from Zhengzhou, China. During the interview, the bureau said they were providing inconsistent statements and failed to establish their purpose of travel.

BI Intelligence Division Chief Fortunato Manahan, Jr., the 16 were allegedly sponsored by a tech company in the Philippines.

“Their purpose was very doubtful, and they gave conflicting statements, hence they were denied entry to the country,” he said.

21 February 2021 PRESS RELEASEBI bars entry of 17 Chinese nationalsPASAY, Philippines—the Bureau of Immigration…

Posted by Bureau of Immigration, Republic of the Philippines on Sunday, February 21, 2021

A Chinese man who arrived from Bangkok, Thailand was also intercepted.

The BI reported that the man claimed to be affiliated with a solar energy company in the Philippines, but was unable to prove his purpose.

“All 17 were excluded and boarded on the next available flight back to their port of origin, and their names were included in the Bureau’s blacklist,” the Immigration Bureau said. AAC

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