Foreigners defying PH laws, quarantine rules may face deportation – BI

Robie de Guzman   •   April 6, 2021   •   236

MANILA, Philippines – Foreign nationals who are violating quarantine rules set by the government’s inter-agency for COVID-19 response may be deported, the Bureau of Immigration (BI) warned.

In a statement, Immigration Commissioner Jaime Morente said foreigners staying in the country are expected to follow Philippine laws, and blatant disregard of rules and persons of authority may result in their deportation.

It can be recalled that last year, the bureau blacklisted a Spanish national for allegedly violating the Enhanced Community Quarantine (ECQ) policies and for hurling expletives at a police officer who advised the foreigner’s helper to wear a face mask while watering the plants outside of their house in a Makati Village.

Morente reiterated that aliens who disrespect persons of authority may be considered undesirable aliens.

“Foreign nationals who disrespect symbols of our country and persons of authority are not welcome in the Philippines,” he said.

The bureau also disclosed they are probing reports about some foreign executives of companies in the Philippines who allegedly violate quarantine protocols in their workplaces.

“We will be conducting an investigation on these reports, and if found with merit, will file immigration cases against aliens involved,” the BI said.

Immigration Bureau to impose travel ban expansion in 4 countries starting May 7

Aileen Cerrudo   •   May 7, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — The Bureau of Immigration (BI) has expanded its restriction to travelers from four countries beginning May 7.

In an advisory, the Immigration Bureau announced that they will be implementing restrictions for travelers coming from Pakistan, Nepal, Sri Lanka, and Bangladesh starting May 7.

However, passengers who will only be transiting through India, Pakistan, Nepal, Sri Lanka, and Bangladesh, will be allowed to enter. They will only be required to undergo a strict 14-day quarantine.

“Those who would be coming prior to May 7 will be allowed, but will be referred to the appropriate agencies to undergo a strict absolute facility-based 14-day quarantine and RT-PCR testing,” said BI Commissioner Jaime Morente.

Meanwhile, BI Port Operations Division (POD) Chief Atty. Carlos Capulong clarified that the spouse and children of Filipinos or former Filipinos who are traveling to the Philippines without the Filipino or former Filipino spouse or parent may only be allowed upon the presentation of a valid 9(a) visa and an exemption document from the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA).

“This is in compliance with the resolution of the Inter-Agency Task Force for Emerging Infectious Diseases, temporarily banning the entry of aliens holding temporary visitors’ visas,” said Capulong. -AAC

More than 1,200 BI frontliners to get COVID-19 vaccine

Robie de Guzman   •   April 23, 2021

MANILA, Philippines – The Bureau of Immigration (BI) on Friday announced it will roll out the COVID-19 vaccination for its frontline workers this weekend.

In a statement, Immigration Commissioner Jaime Morente said they are looking to inoculate a total of 1,250 immigration personnel starting this April 24 to 25.

Immigration personnel eligible for vaccination will receive government-procured Sinovac’s CoronaVac jab, which will be administered in two doses in an interval of 28 days.

A pre-screening will be conducted on the medical history of the officers to determine those who are eligible to receive the vaccine.

“We have scheduled vaccination of our eligible employees on a weekend so as not to hamper our daily operations,” Morente said.

Adhering to the priority list given by the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF), the BI will start vaccinating employees who are senior citizens and persons with co-morbidities.

“The continuous rise of COVID-19 cases accentuates the need to vaccinate our frontliners, especially those belonging in the most vulnerable group such as the seniors and persons with co-morbidities. We want to assure their safety from the threat of the deadly virus,” Morente shared.

BI Deputy Commissioner and Chairperson of the bureau’s COVID-19 Task Force Aldwin Alegre said that despite vaccine rollout among immigration officers, they will continue to implement basic health protocols such as wearing face masks and face shields, maintaining physical distancing, and checking body temperatures.

“Our frontliners are one of the most exposed and have a high risk of contracting the highly transmissible virus. As such, we will continue to make sure that all health protocols are being followed,” Alegre said.

“I am confident that as our officers get their jabs, we will be able to carry out our mandate better and with less worry,” he added.

The BI has so far recorded 300 COVID-19 infections among its personnel.

Duterte won’t compromise on quarantine protocols for returning OFWs

Marje Pelayo   •   April 21, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — President Rodrigo Duterte said he is not comfortable with relaxing quarantine and testing protocols for arriving overseas Filipino workers (OFWs).

During Wednesday’s (April 21) public address, the President noted that less stringent measures could compromise the entire country as COVID-19 cases continue to surge.

“I’m not quite comfortable with the relaxation that’s being brought now,” he said.

“I am not ready for a compromise lalo na ngayon. ‘Yung ibang sakit siguro, pwede pa – iyong mga rabies. Pero ito, talagang … as I have said, dapo rito, dapo roon,” he added.

The meeting which included health experts was in response to the appeal of Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III for an immediate swab test on OFWs upon arrival and a shortening of the quarantine period or their stay in hotels or isolation facilities.

“Kaya nga po kami nakikiusap sana, na kung maaari, ay we go back to the original protocol noon na pagdating ng ating OFWs, swab kaagad sila,” Bello said.

The medical experts recommended a review of the testing protocol but insisted that the implementation of strict quarantine measures is still best to be strictly enforced at this time.

“The [Technical Advisory Group] had some preliminary discussions po regarding the current issue, and we were thinking that based on the data that we have right now, it’s a better option to review the testing protocol,” said DOH-TAG member Dr. Anna Ong-Lim.

“We recommend that it be done at a later time, but the critical intervention should really be that quarantine should be strictly enforced,” she concluded.

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