BI personnel reminded of policy vs posting TikTok videos in uniform

Robie de Guzman   •   October 25, 2021   •   205

The Bureau of Immigration (BI) on Monday warned its personnel anew against posting videos of themselves performing acts while in uniform.

In a statement, the BI said that officers assigned at the international airports should strictly comply with the directive banning them from posting videos of themselves dancing or singing while on duty, particularly on video-sharing network service TikTok.

In a memorandum to all BI port personnel, Immigration port operations chief Atty. Carlos Capulong warned that employees defying the ban will face administrative cases for insubordination and misconduct.

Capulong said BI Commissioner Jaime Morente has ordered him to investigate reports that some bureau employees assigned at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) continue to post videos on TikTok which were taken while they were on duty and wearing their official uniform.

“I was instructed by Commissioner Morente to hold these errant employees liable by forwarding their cases to our board of discipline for investigation and filing of the appropriate administrative cases,” he added.

The BI personnel were also reminded to strictly observe the ban on the use of cellular phones and other electronic gadgets while on duty.

Capulong said the TikTok videos of BI employees in uniform could not have been taken if the latter were not on duty at the time, thus it is obvious that they had their mobile phones and gadgets with them.

It was in December last year that Morente first barred BI employees in uniform from posting on TikTok, saying the act denigrates the bureau as an institution and unbecoming of government employees who should always conduct themselves with professionalism and integrity.

“Our policy on the wearing of the BI uniform is clear. As public servants, employees must proudly wear their uniform at all times, present a professional image to the public and observe proper decorum and good taste in all their actions while they are on duty,” Morente said in a memorandum.

He stressed that such acts undermine the BI’s reputation and create a negative image for the agency’s personnel, especially its frontline immigration officers.

PH Immigration bureau reminds airline firms: Board passengers only from allowable countries

Robie de Guzman   •   November 29, 2021

MANILA, Philippines – The Bureau of Immigration (BI) on Monday reminded airline companies to carefully check the documents of travelers prior to boarding, to ensure that only those allowed entry may fly to the Philippines.

The bureau issued the reminder after the Philippine government expanded the “Red” list of countries due to the looming threat of the Omicron COVID-19 variant.

The Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-MEID) recently announced entry restrictions for inbound passengers coming from several areas in South Africa and seven countries in Europe that have reported cases of the new coronavirus variant.

The “Red” list now includes South Africa, Botswana, Namibia, Zimbabwe, Lesotho, Eswatini and Mozambique, Austria, Czech Republic, Hungary, The Netherlands, Switzerland, Belgium and Italy. The new policy is effective from November 28 until December 15.

“We are conducting 100% passport inspection to ensure that we see the complete travel history of the arriving passengers,” BI Port Operations Division Chief Atty. Carlos Capulong said in a statement.

Capulong said passengers who are inadmissible but were allowed to board will be denied entry to the country and  will warrant a penalty to the erring airline.

The IATF resolution stated that travelers, regardless of vaccination status, who are coming from or who have been to the Red List areas within the last 14 days prior to their arrival will not be allowed to enter the Philippines.

Only Filipinos returning to the country via government-initiated or non-government-initiated repatriation and Bayanihan flights may be allowed entry. However, they will be subject to the prevailing entry, testing, and quarantine protocols for Red List territories.

Passengers already in transit and all those who have been to the said Red List areas within 14 days before their arrival to the Philippines, who arrive before 12:01 a.m. of November 30, 2021, shall not be subject to this restriction from entry.

“They shall nevertheless be required to undergo facility-based quarantine for 14 days with testing on the 7th day, with day 1 being the date of arrival, notwithstanding a negative RT-PCR result,” the IATF said.

Passengers who have already arrived prior to November 28, and are currently undergoing quarantine pursuant to the classifications of their country of origin, shall complete their respective testing and quarantine protocols.

Passengers, whether Filipinos or foreigners, merely transiting through the Red List areas, will not be deemed as having come from these areas if they stayed in the airport the whole time and were not cleared for entry into such country by its immigration authorities.

“Upon their arrival in the Philippines, passengers covered by the immediately preceding paragraph shall comply with existing testing and quarantine protocols,” the task force said.

The Philippine government also temporarily suspended the resolution providing for the entry of fully vaccinated nationals of non-visa required countries.

“For now, the current general travel restrictions stand. Only Filipinos, balikbayan, and those with long term visas from green and yellow list countries may be allowed entry,” the immigration bureau said.

Immigration chief confident PH reopening to foreign tourists soon

Robie de Guzman   •   November 25, 2021

Bureau of Immigration (BI) chief Jaime Morente on Thursday said they are now preparing for the eventual reopening of Philippine borders to foreign tourists amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

While no definite date has been decided for when the Philippines will reopen its doors to foreign tourists, Morente expressed confidence that this will happen “very soon.”

“There are reports circulating that the country has already reopened its borders to international leisure travelers,” Morente said in a statement.

“While we are awaiting the official announcement from the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-MEID), we have already put in place the needed manpower and facilities in preparation for this,” he added.

Earlier, the BI announced that frontline personnel have been banned from filing vacation leaves during the holiday season.

The bureau also stated that 99 new immigration officers have been recently hired for deployment in the BI’s ports and various offices nationwide.

“We have also resumed the use of our e-gates for arriving Filipinos as it would greatly lessen the processing time for our kababayans who will be returning here for Christmas,” said Morente.

He said the IATF-MEID is still extensively discussing and deliberating on proposals to reopen the Philippines to alien visitors, ironing out many details before its implementation.

“Most probably, those coming from green list countries will be the first ones to be allowed entry,” said Morente.

According to BI Port Operations Division Chief Atty. Carlos Capulong, there are 44 countries that are under the green list, while two— the Faroe Islands and the Netherlands —remain on the red list.

Morente clarified that the country’s travel restrictions are still on status quo as they wait for the IATF-MEID to make the formal announcement.

Immigration bureau prepares for possible influx of passengers during holidays

Robie de Guzman   •   November 25, 2021

MANILA, Philippines – The Bureau of Immigration (BI) on Thursday said it has implemented measures for the possible influx of arriving passengers in the holiday season to avoid another surge in COVID-19 cases.

During a public briefing, BI Spokesperson Dana Sandoval said these measures include prohibiting its frontline workers from filing vacation leaves to maximize their manpower during the holidays.

“Nagkaroon din po tayo ng additional na 99 Immigration officers that are deployed po sa ating mga major airports and seaports para po makatulong sa pagpapabilis po ng pagpuproseso,” she said.

Sandoval also said that the BI has reactivated the electronic gate (e-gate) system, which requires biometric scanning, with strict enforcement of health and sanitation protocols.

“[L]ahat naman po ay in place na, nakalatag na po iyong added manpower natin, iyong technologies natin nakalatag na. So, we can say po that we are ready lalo po dito sa pagdating ng upcoming holiday season,” she said.

“Mayroon din po tayong mga assigned marshals sa mga immigration areas natin who may guide po itong ating mga passengers that are arriving o kaya naman po iyong mga aalis para po sa tamang proseso,” she added.

Proper markings for the implementation of physical distancing are also in place, Sandoval said.

She also said that 75% of the BI’s manpower nationwide has been fully vaccinated against COVID-19.

“Karamihan po sa mga iyan ay iyong mga naka-deploy po sa frontline naming,” she said.

“Iyong iba po na mga hindi pa po nababakunahan, iyan po ay ini-expect po natin na makumpleto na natin iyan, by the end of the year. Usually po, ito po iyong mga nag-aantay na lang ng kani-kanilang mga schedule o kaya naman po ay mayroon pa pong medical issues na hindi pa po sila nabibigyan ng clearance for vaccine,” she added.

Sandoval said the bureau is expecting an increase in the number of inbound passengers this holiday season, particularly returning Filipinos and overseas workers.

“Sa figures po natin, iyong first three quarters po ng taon, nakita po natin na malaki ang ibinaba ng arrivals natin, nasa 72% po as compared sa last year. So, ang laki po ng difference from the pre-pandemic period, iyong total po noong pre-pandemic period nasa 17 million po iyan,” she said.

“So, ini-expect po natin na tataas po ito. Ang figures po natin last year ng December, nasa 152,000 perhaps po nasu-surpass po nito iyong total arrivals natin for this coming month,” she added.

Sandoval said the bureau of is also preparing for the possible reopening of Philippine borders to foreign travelers, particularly those who have been fully vaccinated from countries under the “green list” or those tagged as low-risk for COVID-19.

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