BI augments manpower at NAIA ahead of holiday surge

Marje Pelayo   •   December 4, 2020   •   304

MANILA, Philippines — The Bureau of Immigration (BI) is augmenting its manpower at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) this December in view of the expected influx of travelers during the holiday season.

BI Commissioner Jaime Morente directed immigration officers assigned at the bureau’s main office and other satellite, extension and field offices in Metro Manila to be deployed at NAIA to render primary inspection duties at the airport’s immigration arrival and departure counters.

“This is a temporary measure that we are taking proactively,” Morente said.

“While we do not expect a major rise in the number of travelers this holiday season, we’d rather err on the side of caution and beef up our deployment,” he added.

The directive comes after the recent update on international travel restrictions by the Inter-Agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF) which again allowed the visa free entry of balikbayans.

Immigration officers presently assigned at BI offices in Metro Manila are required to comply with the directive.

This order exempts division and section chiefs, seniors and those suffering from serious illnesses.

BI port operations division chief Atty. Candy Tan said she sought the augmentation of immigration personnel at NAIA in anticipation of a slight increase in the number of international flights and volume of passengers in the coming weeks despite travel restrictions imposed due to the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic.

NAIA runway upgrade to aid swift delivery of vaccines

Marje Pelayo   •   February 16, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — The upgraded runway at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) can now be used for domestic flights following its yearlong rehabilitation.

The runway will also aid the swift delivery of vaccines in the country. 

The Department of Transportation (DOTr) and the Manila International Airport Authority (MIAA) led the inauguration of the rehabilitated and upgraded runway 13/31 in NAIA on Tuesday (February 16).

The department was able to finish the repair and overlay of the runway which include the repair of deteriorated asphalt pavement areas and the entire runway to assure the aircraft’s safe landing and take off.

Apart from the upgraded runway, a newly-constructed taxiway was also inaugurated to manage air traffic and to address aircraft congestion on the ground.

According to MIAA General Manager Eddie Monreal, this will also benefit the anticipated volume arrival of COVID-19 vaccines in the country that is expected to happen this month.

GM Monreal cited that prior to the construction of the new taxiway it takes more than an hour before an aircraft could take off on runway 13/31, but now it could possibly take only about 30 minutes with the new taxiway.

“Dati kasi ang nga flights kasi galing Terminal 3 at Terminal 2 pag nagtake-off po sa domestic runway yung maiiksi natin umiikot sila hanggang dulo sa harap ng Terminal 4,” Monreal said.

“Ngayon hindi na sila iikot doon. Mayroon tayong parang tinatawag na bypass taxiway na para pagdating dun sa area na yun kakaliwa sila derecho take off na so hindi na maabala yung movement ng terminal 4,” he added.

The construction of the runway was conducted during the strict quarantine that is why flight operations were not hampered.

Meanwhile, airport officials also completed the rehabilitation of NAIA Terminal 2 to accomodate more passengers.

“So lumuwag po ang departure area, pre-departure area ng International area. Sa labas naman makikita ninyo meron tayong extra space na nakuha para magamit ng mga pasahero na aalis ng bansa. Lumaki yung check in counter. Nakadagdag tayo ng security screening kasi dati yun ang nagiging reklamo na medyo mahaba ang pila sa labas,” Monreal noted.

Although the rehabilitation was completed, MIAA said that bidding for the upgrade of terminals is yet to be decided. MNP (with reports from Joan Nano)

7 Vietnamese nationals barred entry to the Philippines

Marje Pelayo   •   February 11, 2021

MANILA, Philippines The Bureau of Immigration (BI) at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) has denied the entry of seven Vietnamese nationals found to be misrepresenting the purpose of their travel.

A statement released by the immigration bureau said the seven Vietnamese were intercepted on separate occasions at the NAIA Terminal 2 arrival area after flying in from Ho Chi Minh City and Singapore.

“We intercepted the first batch of three passengers on February 9, and denied their entry to the country,” BI Port Operations Division Chief Atty. Candy Tan stated in her report.

“However, we were surprised to find that another four arrived the following day,” she added.

The officer said the group showed that they were endorsed by an IT and business solutions company in the Philippines. 

However, when asked how they are connected to said company, all seven gave conflicting answers and admitted they only met at the Vietnam International Airport.

“When asked, they had no knowledge of IT or the workings of their alleged company.  They were unable to establish their purpose of travel,” Tan said.

“Hence they were excluded and boarded on the next available flight back to their port of origin,” she added.

The seven were excluded under Section 29(a) 5 of the Philippine Immigration Act of 1940.

BI Commissioner Jaime Morente reminded port personnel to strictly monitor arriving passengers despite the easing of travel restrictions in the country. 

“All immigration officers must strictly assess arriving passengers to ensure the legitimacy of their purpose of travel,” said Morente.

DOTr boosts testing capacity in NAIA as OFWs return for the holidays

Aileen Cerrudo   •   December 17, 2020

The Department of Transportation (DOTr) has boosted its One-Stop-Shop as more overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) return home for the holidays.

DOTr’s Office for the Transportation Security (OTS) Administrator Usec. Raul Del Rosario said this is to prevent the previous inconvenience caused by delayed COVID-19 test results.

Based on the OTS data, an estimated 5,000 OFWs arrive in the Philippines every day during the holidays.

Del Rosario also said additional Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) personnel were deployed.

The One-Stop-Shop partnered with four COVID-testing laboratories to accommodate more OFWs.

Nagkaroon kami ng commitment among these laboratories, nag-commit sila na 24 hours ilalabas nila ang result at walang lalagpas ng 48 hours (We had a commitment among these laboratories. They committed to release the results in 24 hours and not exceeding 48 hours),” he said.

The One-Stop-Shop can process 10,000 swab tests per day, Del Rosario added.

Aside from the laboratories, there are also 21,000 slots available in hotels where OFWs can stay while waiting for their COVID-19 test results. -AAC (with reports from Joan Nano)

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