3 passengers bound for Jeju, South Korea stopped at NAIA

Robie de Guzman   •   January 29, 2020   •   448

MANILA, Philippines – Immigration officers at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) have intercepted three male passengers allegedly attempting to leave for Jeju, South Korea in the guise of being tourists.

The Bureau of Immigration’s travel control and enforcement unit (BI-TCEU) said the trio were stopped at the departure area of NAIA Terminal 1 on January 22 before they could board their flight to Hong Kong en route to Jeju.

BI-TCEU chief Ma. Timotea Barizo said the three passengers initially claimed they are working in the country and that they were going to the popular holiday destination in Korea for a vacation.

“But what sparked the curiosity of our officers is when the trio showed seemingly-spurious company IDs that… they showed as proof of local employment,” Barizo said.

The three also appeared to not know each other despite presenting themselves as traveling companions, she added.

When questioned, Barizo said the trio later admitted that they were recruited by a man they met on Facebook and who convinced them to book their flight to Korea.

“There was no assurance, however, that jobs really awaited them upon arriving in Jeju. They were just told that somebody would contact them when they arrived there,” Barizo said.

“They were promised work as radish farmers, and were offered huge salaries,” she added.

The immigration official also said the passengers have admitted they each spent P30,000 in engaging the services of a tour operator, which their recruiter said would book their flight and arrange their trip to Jeju.

“They were duped by their recruiter and travel agents who were only after their money,” Barizo added.

The men were turned over to the Inter-Agency Council Against Trafficking (IACAT) for assistance and further investigation, the BI said.

Foreigner accused of quarantine violation in PHL facing deportation

Robie de Guzman   •   May 22, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – Deportation charges have been filed against a Spanish national who was involved in a scuffle with a police officer over an alleged violation of quarantine protocols in a Makati City subdivision in April, the Bureau of Immigration (BI) said on Friday.

In a statement, Immigration Commissioner Jaime Morente said it has charged Javier Salvador Parra for undesirability and overstaying in the country.

Morente said the bureau’s legal officers ordered Parra to submit a counter-affidavit to answer the reports against him, “but he reportedly refused to receive the notice and disregarded the requirement, which was due last May 21.”

“Our offices remained open to receive his response, but he failed to submit any,” Morente said.

The case stemmed from a confrontation between Parra and a police officer after the latter advised the foreigner’s househelp to wear a mask while she was outside watering the plants.

The househelp then went inside the house, and Parra emerged minutes after to confront the policeman that led to an attempted arrest for allegedly violating enhanced community quarantine policies.

The incident that took place in Dasmariñas Village last month was captured in a video and made rounds on social media.

Morente said foreign nationals who “blatanly disregard laws” and “disrespect persons of authority” may be considered undesirable aliens.

“Foreign nationals who are here in the country are expected to follow Philippine laws, especially in these special times wherein public health and safety is at risk,” Morente said. 

“There is no exemption, whether you are living in a posh village, or in a slum area, you must obey the law,” he added.

Morente said that the deportation case is a separate action from criminal complaints that were earlier filed by the police against the Spanish national.

PH Immigration to use digitized arrival cards, boarding passes for passengers under ‘new normal’

Robie de Guzman   •   May 21, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – The Bureau of Immigration (BI) is looking to implement the use of digitized arrival cards and records for “more effective passenger monitoring” and lessen person-to-person contact at ports amid the continuing outbreak of novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19).

In a statement on Wednesday, Immigration Commissioner Jaime Morente said the measure comes after President Rodrigo Duterte informed Congress that the bureau will soon launch an advanced passenger processing and information system, and use digitized arrival cards and boarding passes for international passengers entering and exiting the country’s ports.

“These new paperless travel control systems and procedures are just among several innovative protocols that we will be introducing under a new normal environment during this pandemic,” Morente said.

The Immigration chief explained that the new protocols are designed not only to achieve social distancing by lessening person-to-person contact between officers and passengers but also to facilitate contact tracing, if needed.

“While the Bureau of Quarantine (BOQ) collects information from arriving passengers for contact tracing, we have extended our help by providing other details that are found in our arrival cards,” he said.

“These information have proven to be helpful in locating persons that need to be monitored,” he added.

Morente further stated that the bureau is discussing with different airlines the mechanics and procedures for implementing the said initiatives so these could become operational as soon as possible.

He said these initiatives are among the administration’s priority projects as this “would not only help in contact tracing but would also allow our port operations to more effectively monitor and screen arriving foreign nationals.”

Said system is being used by many developed countries, which we can also adopt and use in our fight against COVID-19,” he said.

According to BI Port Operations Division chief Grifton Medina, the digitized arrival cards will be filled out by Philippine-bound passengers at their port of origin prior to their departure for the Philippines.

“This would enable us to easily track details of a passenger as the data will be integrated and sorted in our system,” Medina said.

“Should information be needed for contact tracing, we wouldn’t have to manually dig into boxes of arrival cards which take up precious time. With one click, we would be able to provide the data faster to contact tracers,” he added.

Medina said the move to transition from paper-based arrival cards aims to reduce objects that may possibly transmit infectious agents from a passenger to the officers.

He added that the bureau is likewise urging airlines to use QR or bar codes in a passenger’s mobile device as their boarding pass, which will also be integrated into the BI’s system.

“This will create a fully paperless transaction during immigration assessment, reduce the risk of transmission, and allow for more efficient monitoring,” he said.

NAIA reopens for int’l chartered, commercial flights with homebound Filipinos

Marje Pelayo   •   May 11, 2020

MANILA, Philippines — The Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) has opened for inbound international chartered and commercial flights on Monday (May 11).

The resumption of operations, however, is only limited to overseas Filipinos who are returning home to the Philippines, clarified the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP).

CAAP added that foreign tourists and non-residents remain restricted from entering the country except for diplomats and heads or members of international missions. 

“Itong in-issue ng Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines na Notice to Airmen is only starting today hanggang June 10 but it doesn’t mean na hanggang June 10 ito (The CAAP-issued Notice to Airmen is only starting today until June 10, but it doesn’t mean it’s only up to June 10),” noted CAAP Spokesperson Eric Apolonio.

“Depende ito sa sitwasyon. Kung mag-i-improve naman, baka mag-relax iyong restrictions ng arrivals ng international flights sa airport (It will depend on the situation. If it improves, we may relax restrictions on international flight arrivals in the airport),” he added.

Inbound international chartered flights will only be allowed to land at NAIA on Mondays and Thursdays provided that they secure a clearance from CAAP and the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA).

International commercial flights, meanwhile, are allowed during Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays. 

Such scheduling of flights is needed as NAIA, for now, can only accommodate 400 passengers a day so as to maintain strict physical distancing protocols and to comply with the rules imposed by the National Task Force Against COVID-19 in the conduct of COVID-19 testing and other procedures on all arriving passengers in NAIA.

Commercial flights, however, must get the approval of CAAP within 48 hours prior to its take off from point of origin. 

If the flight is coming from countries with high incidence of COVID-19 infection, the permission to allow them to proceed will depend on the decision of the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-MEID) as the overall in charge of the national government’s response on the global pandemic. 

CAAP reiterates that social distancing protocols will always be observed in every flight. MNP (with details from Asher Cadapan Jr.)

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