Suspected American pedophile nabbed in Pangasinan

Robie de Guzman   •   July 7, 2020   •   299

MANILA, Philippines – The Bureau of Immigration (BI) on Tuesday said it has arrested an American wanted by United States authorities for alleged sexual exploitation of a Filipino minor.

In a statement, Immigration Commissioner Jaime Morente identified the suspect as 69-year old Michael Kent Clapper.

Morente said Clapper was arrested on Monday in San Manuel, Pangasinan during a joint operation conducted by operatives from the bureau’s Fugitive Search Unit, Women and Children Protection Center, and the Philippine National Police Region 1.

The BI chief said the arrest was made after the US Embassy sought the agency’s assistance in apprehending clapper due to his “involvement in possible sexual exploitation of a minor in the Philippines.”

Morente said Clapper has allegedly been in an “inappropriate relationship” with a 12-year old girl.

The Embassy also stated that Clapper’s US passport already expired, making him an undocumented alien who is subject to summary deportation.

“He will be deported for being an undocumented and undesirable alien,” Morente said.

“His continued presence here poses a serious risk to our Filipino children, anyone of whom could be his next victim,” he added.

The bureau said Clapper last arrived in the country as a tourist on March 26 last year.

He is temporarily detained at the San Miguel police headquarters pending release of his swab test for COVID-19.

If he tests negative for the virus, he will be committed to the BI Warden Facility in Bicutan, Taguig City where he will remain until he is deported.

Clapper will then be placed in the immigration blacklist and banned from re-entering the country, the BI said.

3 alleged human trafficking victims intercepted at NAIA – BI

Robie de Guzman   •   August 3, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – Three people suspected of being victims of human trafficking and illegal recruitment have been intercepted at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA), the Bureau of Immigration (BI) said on Monday.

In a report to Immigration Commissioner Jaime Morente, BI port operations division acting chief Grifton Medina said the passengers were stopped last week before they could board their flights to the Middle East and Europe.

Medina said one of the victims was bound for Dubai while the two others were destined for Greece, all of them showing intentions to work illegally as undocumented workers.

According to BI’s Travel Control and Enforcement Unit (TCEU), the Dubai-bound passenger was intercepted last 25 July 2020 after the immigration officer noticed that the Overseas Employment Certificate (OEC) was not cleared and validated by the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration – Labor Assistance Center (POEA-LAC) desk at the NAIA.

Verification with the POEA-LAC later revealed that the said OEC was tampered as it was issued to someone else and not to the said passenger.

The victim then admitted that her trip was processed by her handlers and that her documents were only given to her when she arrived at the airport.

The BI-TCEU also reported that the two Greece-bound passengers who were intercepted last Saturday, August 2, likewise presented fraudulent travel documents, including fake OECs and local employment certificates.

The bureau said that upon interview, they confessed that their documents were only handed to them at the airport. They also said they were recruited to work in Athens by their handlers to whom they each paid P95,000 in return for facilitating their trip and processing their documents.

“Thanks to the vigilance of our primary inspectors for foiling these attempts by human trafficking syndicates to sneak their victims out of the country,” Medina said.

The victims were turned over to the Inter-Agency Council Against Trafficking (IACAT) for investigation, according to the bureau.

BI main building’s temporary closure extended to Thursday

Robie de Guzman   •   July 29, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – The Bureau of Immigration (BI) on Wednesday announced that its main building in Intramuros, Manila will remain closed until Thursday to give way to the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) testing for all its employees assigned there.

In a statement, Immigration Commissioner Jaime Morente said the temporary closure was extended as only about half of the nearly 700 employees at the bureau’s main office were tested on Monday and Tuesday.

Morente added that the bureau’s General Services Section has also for more time to complete the disinfection and sanitation of the entire four-story building and its premises.

The BI earlier said it was suspending operations at its headquarters after three of its employees reportedly tested positive for the viral respiratory disease.

While BI’s main building is closed, Morente said the public may conduct their business in the bureau’s satellite and extension offices in Metro Manila.

“Those who have registered with our online appointment system will be notified or may inquire about their new schedule by contacting our hotlines that can be viewed at immigration.gov.ph,” he added.

BI reminds Filipinos non-essential foreign travel is banned anew

Robie de Guzman   •   July 24, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – The Bureau of Immigration (BI) on Friday reminded Filipinos that non-essential travel overseas is prohibited anew following the government’s decision to re-impose the outbound travel restriction.

In a statement, the bureau said it is re-implementing the ban on overseas travel and that immigration personnel in international ports in the country have already been instructed to impose the restriction as ordered by the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases.

“Again, only essential travel of outbound Filipinos will be allowed. Non-essential travel for leisure and tourism purposes will not be permitted,” BI Commissioner Jaime Morente said.

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque on Thursday said the task force decided to reinstate the ban because only one company agreed to provide travel and health insurance coverage in relation to the coronavirus pandemic.

It can be recalled that the task force lifted the restriction on non-essential foreign travel last July 6 subject to conditions, including having a travel and health insurance to cover rebooking, accommodation if they got stranded or their trip got delayed, and hospitalization expenses in case they contracted the viral respiratory disease.

The bureau, however, said it will still continue to allow the departure of foreigners and Filipinos who are overseas workers, holders of study visas, and permanent residents in their country of destination.

BI Port Operations Acting Chief Grifton Medina said essential travel will be permitted to those who are going abroad for medical and humanitarian reasons, and for business and work-related purposes.

He said outbound Filipino travelers must present to immigration officers documents and other proof about the purpose of their travel in order to prove that their trip is really essential.

“However, passengers with bookings until July 20 would still be allowed to leave for non-essential trips abroad,” he added.

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