BI warns foreign nationals against fake immigration services

Marje Pelayo   •   July 7, 2021   •   346

MANILA, Philippines — The Bureau of Immigration (BI) has warned the public against a circulating document from a Philippine-based company that is allegedly charging money to its employees, who are foreign nationals, for extra services that provide immigration assistance.

Immigration Commissioner Jaime Morente said he was able to obtain a copy of the said document which shows a breakdown of fees in exchange for immigration airport assistance.

Morente said based on the document, the company allegedly charged the following services with a hefty amount:
P5,000 for Airport Assistance Fee
P5,000 for processing fee
P20,000 for a Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) Invitation Letter

“It seems that this company is using the name of government agencies to be able to charge such high rates to its employees,” he added.

The BI chief reiterated that the agency does not collect any ‘immigration assistance’ fees from foreign nationals.

The Immigration Bureau earlier released several advisories warning the public about individuals pretending to be BI employees involved in such fraudulent activities.

“Be wary of falling prey to these scammers. Immediately report to the authorities if you encounter such a modus,” Morente said, adding that they are now studying possible legal actions against said company.

BI issues lookout bulletin order vs Michael Yang, 8 others

Marje Pelayo   •   September 16, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — The Bureau of Immigration (BI) has issued an Immigration Lookout Bulletin Order (ILBO) against former presidential adviser on economic affairs Michael Yang, also known as Yang Hong Ming.

Yang is among the subjects of an ongoing Senate investigation on the budget utilization of government-procured pandemic response supplies for alleged overpricing.

According to BI Commissioner Jaime Morente, the ILBO was issued in compliance to the order from the Department of Justice (DOJ) following a request from Senator Richard Gordon being the chair of the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee.

“This matter is of national interest. We have made the proper arrangements, and our immigration officers are now on the lookout for the possible departure of the suspect personalities,” Morente said.

Meanwhile, pursuant to a September 7 order from the DOJ, former chief of the Procurement Service of the Department of Budget and Management (PS-DBM) Atty. Lloyd Christopher Lao was also placed under lookout bulletin.

Aside from Lao and Yang, the BI also placed under ILBO Overall Deputy Ombudsman Atty. Warren Rex Liong and Pharmally Pharmaceutical Corp.’s executives Twinkle Dargani, Huang Tzu Yen, Krizle Grace Mago, Justine Garado, Linconn Ong, and Mohit Dargani.

The BI clarified that an ILBO is for monitoring the movement of subjects who might attempt to place themselves beyond the reach of the legal process by leaving the country.

“An ILBO is issued for prudence to double check if there are any pending arrest warrants against the subjects, or monitor their itineraries and whereabouts, should they attempt to leave the country,” the BI explained.

The Senate has started an investigation on Pharmally Pharmaceutical Corp. to dig into the P8 billion worth of government contracts despite being a start-up company with only P625,000 in paid-up capital.

BI includes 9 countries in Philippines’ travel ban list

Marje Pelayo   •   September 13, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — The Bureau of Immigration (BI) has announced a travel ban on nine more countries which  took effect on Sunday (September 12).

These countries are Azerbaijan, Guadeloupe, Guam, Israel, Kosovo, Montenegro, North Macedonia, Saint Lucia, and Switzerland.

BI Commissioner Jaime Morente said in an advisory said that passengers coming from, or who have been in the said countries within the last 14 days prior to their arrival to the Philippines, shall temporarily be barred entry.

This directive is in compliance with the recent directive from Malacañang, as recommended by the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-MEID).

Morente clarified that passengers already in transit from the 9 countries who will arrive before the implementation of the travel ban may be allowed to enter, subject to existing policies of the Bureau of Quarantine (BOQ).

Also, Filipinos arriving from countries under the “red list” via government or non-government repatriation programs or bayanihan flights, may be allowed entry.

However, they shall undergo a strict 14-day facility based quarantine, and be required to undergo a reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) test that will be monitored by the BOQ.

BI Port Operations Division Chief Atty. Carlos Capulong added that those who had a mere layover at the nine countries are not covered by the travel ban.

The travel ban remains in effect until 11:59 p.m. of September 18, 2021.

BI cautions public against online scammers offering fake entry permits to foreigners

Marje Pelayo   •   September 3, 2021

MANILA, Philippines – The Bureau of Immigration (BI) warned the public against scammers victimizing foreign nationals by offering them fake entry permits on Facebook.

The warning comes after a complaint that alerted the BI about an individual offering entry permits.

According to BI Commissioner Jaime Morente, one victim was asked to contact an alleged immigration officer who would supposedly ensure the smooth entry of foreigners in exchange for grease money.

But based on BI records, the alleged immigration officer is not an employee of the agency.

“There is no such service. We believe that these scammers prey on the people they see on Facebook,” Morente said.

“It is disconcerting to know that there are still those who can take advantage of the vulnerable even during a pandemic,” he added.

At present, only Filipinos, foreign spouses and children of Filipinos, foreign parents of Filipino minors, and foreigners holding immigrant and non-immigrant visas are allowed entry in the Philippines.

The entry of tourists to the country remains restricted.

Entry exemption documents (EED) are issued by foreign posts abroad to foreigners who wish to enter the country with tourist visas.

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