Foreigner accused of quarantine violation in PHL facing deportation

Robie de Guzman   •   May 22, 2020   •   1459

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 offices lowers worksite capacity to 30% amid spike in COVID cases

Robie de Guzman   •   January 13, 2022

The Bureau of Immigration (BI) has announced it will be downgrading its onsite workforce to at least 30% starting January 13.

In an advisory, Immigration Commissioner Jaime Morente said the reduced workforce will be implemented until January 22 in response to the spike in COVID-19 infections plaguing BI offices.

The bureau earlier reported 251 active cases among its personnel. Of the said number, 135 are assigned at the airport, 91 at the BI’s office in Intramuros, while 25 were from other BI offices.

A total of 269 of BI airport personnel are also under quarantin and awaiting results of their COVID-19 testing.

Morente said he sought Department of Justice Secretary Guevarra’s approval to lower the number of onsite employees in compliance with directives from the Palace.

“We thank Secretary Menardo Guevarra for considering our plight and approving our request to temporarily downgrade our workforce amidst this surge,” said Morente.

“The high number of BI personnel getting sick with COVID-19 is really affecting our operations,” he added.

The BI said all its offices shall continue to be open during weekdays, from 7:00 am to 5:30 pm, despite the reduced workforce.

Employees working offsite are reminded to observe the guidelines for applicable alternative work arrangements as set by the Civil Service Commission.

“We hope that the public bears with us as we reduce our manpower during this surge,” said Morente.

“Our frontliners are getting sick, but we will make sure that the delivery of our services remain unhampered,” he added.

The advisory also stated that fully vaccinated clients are exempted from the Bureau’s Online Appointment System, upon presentation of their vaccination card or certification. Unvaccinated or partially vaccinated clients are advised to continue securing their appointment online via http://e-services.immigration.gov.ph/.

Registered aliens reporting for the Annual Report 2022 are required to secure an appointment online.

BI tells holiday outbound travelers: Be at airport early to avoid crowding

Robie de Guzman   •   December 24, 2021

MANILA, Philippines – The Bureau of Immigration (BI) has reminded passengers going abroad during the holidays to be at the airport early to avoid crowding amid an increasing number of departing travelers at local airports.

In a statement, BI Commissioner Jaime Morente said arriving earlier than the scheduled flight will allow passengers ample time to check in at their airlines and ensure social distancing at the immigration area.

Morente said that in the past few days they have observed a steady increase in the number of international travelers departing from the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA), and the airports in Mactan, Cebu, and Clark, Pampanga with the onset of the holiday season.

“While there are significantly fewer travelers this year because of the pandemic, there could still be congestion for late passengers rushing during boarding time,” said Morente.

“We can help avoid congestion during boarding by checking in early,” he added.

Local airlines also suggest that travelers start the check-in process 3 to 4 hours prior to their scheduled flight.

Morente said that due to the pandemic, airlines would need to conduct additional checks to ensure compliance with travel restrictions of different countries of destination.

The Immigration chief also advised departing passengers to make sure that they possess complete travel documents, as well as the added travel requirements by different countries due to the pandemic.

He also added that BI officers have been instructed to be more vigilant in screening passengers as human traffickers and illegal recruiters could take advantage of the holiday rush to spirit their victims out of the country.

“Our immigration officers are always on the lookout for suspected human trafficking and illegal recruitment victims,” said Morente.

“Despite the holiday rush, we will ensure that our kababayans are protected from these predators, and we will turn over any victims to the Inter-Agency Council Against Trafficking for filing of cases against their recruiters,” he added.

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.

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