BI clarifies: PH only banning travelers not flights from COVID-19-hit areas

Robie de Guzman   •   March 16, 2020   •   661

MANILA, Philippines – The Bureau of Immigration(BI) on Monday clarified that its implementation of the country’s travel restrictions against the spread of the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) involves limiting the entry of people from areas of concern and not banning flights.

Immigration Commissioner Jaime Morente issued the clarification following rumors circulating online that flights from China have been continuously arriving in the Philippines despite travel restrictions in place.

He said that in one such viral social media post, some people questioned the arrival of a Xiamen Air flight that landed in the Philippines last March 10.

The BI chief said the flight in question only carried four passengers: a Filipino citizen, and three permanent residents, all belonging to the exempted classes.

“We are not banning flights, but are rather restricting people coming from areas of concern,” said Morente.

He clarified that some flights to and from China, Hong Kong, Macau, and South Korea still continue to operate as they may carry exempted classes that may fly in and out of the country.

In BI’s most recent travel restriction announcement, passengers from China, Macau, Hong Kong and North Gyeongsang in South Korea are not allowed to enter the country.

However, Filipinos and their spouse or children, foreigners with Philippine permanent resident visas, and members of the diplomatic corps are exempted from the said restriction.

“Flights that come from the restricted countries carry either Filipinos or those exempted from the ban,” said Morente.

He called on the public to stop spreading false information amid COVID-19 pandemic fears as this only adds to unnecessary panic.

“Stop spreading false information. Always check and double-check information you see online, and trust only official sources,” he said.

The BI also said that overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) bound for Mainland China except Hubei province and Wuhan City may now depart as recommended by the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Disease (IATF-EID) last March 12, provided that they sign an undertaking stating that they are aware of the risks involved in their travel.

OFWs, permanent residents and their dependents, and student visa holders may continue to fly out to Hong Kong, Macau, and North Gyeongsang.

The bureau also announced the implementation of the expanded travel restriction for Iran and Italy starting March 16.

Arriving passengers from both countries will be required to present a medical certificate issued within the last 48 hours stating that they are COVID-2019-free.

Also exempted are Filipinos and their spouse or children, foreigners with permanent resident visas, and members of the diplomatic corps. Those exempted will likewise be endorsed to the Bureau of Quarantine for the mandatory 14-day quarantine.

“We are not after certain nationalities. This virus does not pick races. We are after travel patterns,” he said.

“Hence, Chinese, Hong Kong and Macau Nationals, South Koreans, Iranians, and Italians who have not been to the areas of concern in the last 14 days are not part of the restrictions,” he clarified. “But any foreigner, regardless of nationality, who come from these areas of concern will not be allowed to enter,” he added.

PH Immigration deports 10 more illegal aliens

Robie de Guzman   •   June 30, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – The Bureau of Immigration (BI) on Tuesday said it has deported 10 more illegal aliens detained at its warden facility in Taguig City.

In a statement, the BI said the 10 foreigners include eight Chinese nationals and two Mongolians.

They departed from the Ninoy Aquino International Airport via separate flights bound for China last June 19, 24 and 25.

“All of them have been placed on the immigration blacklist of undesirable aliens upon orders of our board of commissioners. Thus, they are now banned from re-entering the Philippines,” BI port operations chief Grifton Medina said.

It was learned that five of the Chinese deportees are wanted in their country for economic crimes due to their involvement in illegal online gaming operations and telecom fraud.

The three other Chinese nationals were deported for overstaying and committing fraud and misrepresentation, while the two Mongolians are alleged female sex workers caught in one of the raids of prostitution dens in Metro Manila last year.

According to Immigration Commissioner Jaime Morente, the deportation was carried out as part of the bureau’s efforts to decongest and prevent the spread of novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) at its detention facility located in Camp Bagong Diwa.

“We will continue to send home these foreign inmates once they have been issued deportation orders and provided they have no pending criminal cases in court,” Morente said.

“We are doing this to safeguard the health not only of the foreign detainees but also that of our personnel assigned to our warden facility,” he added.

The BI earlier reported it had deported seven Chinese nationals who are facing charges for economic crimes and illegal black sand mining.

BI: 16,000 foreign, Filipino seafarers cleared at Manila port

Robie de Guzman   •   June 26, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – More than 16,000 Filipino and foreign seafarers from cruise ships that arrived and anchored at the Manila Bay have been processed and cleared during the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic, the Bureau of Immigration (BI) said Friday.

In a statement, the BI said a total of 16,287 sailors were cleared by boarding inspectors – 11,189 of which are Filipinos while 5,098 are foreign nationals.

The bureau said they disembarked from 42 vessels between April 16 to June 15 after undergoing quarantine and getting tested aboard their ships.

The BI added that around 2,300 seafarers remain quarantined aboard their vessels.

Repatriated Filipino seafarers are immediately transported to their places of residence through the help of the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration.

Foreign seafarers, on the other hand, are only allowed to disembark upon presentation of a confirmed outbound plane ticket to their country of origin. Immigration personnel will escort them to the airport on the date and time of their scheduled departure, the agency said.

Foreign sailors with Filipino spouses are also allowed to disembark and join their families, provided that they submit a letter-request, marriage certificate, photocopy of passport of Filipino spouse, negative COVID-19 swab test result, and endorsement from the Department of Foreign Affairs, the bureau added.

The BI also shared that last June 11, a group of 122 Sri Lankan seafarers were repatriated to their homeland at the request of their embassy in Manila.

BI blacklists 21 Chinese nationals for overstaying in PH

Aileen Cerrudo   •   June 24, 2020

The Bureau of Immigration (BI) has blacklisted 21 Chinese nationals for overstaying without valid justification.

The 21 Chinese nationals arrived in the country on separate dates last December and January and availed of the government’s Visa Upon Arrival (VUA) program.

BI Commissioner Jaime Morente issued the blacklist after the Bureau directed the aliens to immediately leave the country after they have updated their stay and paid the required fees, fines and penalties.

“As a consequence of their being placed in our blacklist, these Chinese nationals are now barred from re-entering the Philippines for violating the conditions of their stay,” he said.

The VUA program is a landed visa scheme that the government launched three years ago to attract more Chinese tourists into the country. It was previously suspending by the BI last January due to the coronavirus outbreak in Wuhan and other places in China. AAC

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