Immigration authorities nab 332 illegal aliens

Marje Pelayo   •   December 7, 2020   •   674

MANILA, Philippines — The Bureau of Immigration (BI) on Sunday (December 6) reported the arrest of 332 foreign nationals working without appropriate visas in an operation launched by joint operatives of the BI and the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) on Wednesday (December 2).

BI Commissioner Jaime Morente said they received information from the NBI-International Operations Division about a worksite in Pag-asa Street, Barangay Dela Cruz, Bamban, Tarlac allegedly employing at least 200 undocumented aliens.

“Upon investigation and verification with our agents, we immediately issued a mission order to effect their arrest,” said Morente.

BI and NBI agents arrested in the operation 323 Chinese nationals; 8 Malaysian nationals; and 1 Indonesian found working by manning computers, using cellular phones, and other electronic devices, without proper working visas.

Morente said their operations reportedly involved online gambling, internet fraud, and cybercrime operations. 

“They were conducting clandestine operations. Their worksite was in a compound that was under construction, and they didn’t leave the premises as they already have their barracks there,” he added.

They face deportation for violation of the Philippine Immigration Act of 1940

All 332 are currently under the physical custody of the NBI pending the filing of appropriate immigration charges and actual deportation.

BI reminds public: Travel ban on 7 countries stays; tourists still not allowed in PH

Marje Pelayo   •   June 2, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — The Bureau of Immigration (BI) has announced that the travel ban on seven countries due to emerging COVID-19 variants in their domain is still in effect.

In an advisory, BI Commissioner Jaime Morente stressed that passengers coming from India, Pakistan, Nepal, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Oman, and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) are still not allowed to enter the country until June 15, following the pronouncement of the Palace.

The BI said it is committed to strictly implement the said measure.

“Those who have a travel history from said countries within the last 14 days from the date of their arrival in the Philippines, will also be prohibited from entering the country,” said Morente.

“However, those who will only be transiting in the region—meaning they will not exit the airport and will not be cleared by immigration authorities there, and will only be landing for a layover, may be allowed to enter the Philippines,” he added.

In addition to this, foreign nationals entering the country for tourism purposes are still not allowed.

“Only Filipinos, Balikbayans, and foreign nationals with valid and existing visas who are not coming from the 7 restricted countries may be allowed to enter the Philippines,” BI Port Operations Division (POD) Chief Atty. Carlos Capulong.

“Those who will be entering under a 9(a) Temporary Visitors’ Visa or a Special Resident Retirees Visa would need to present an entry exemption document to be allowed to enter,” he added.

Morente said that with the aggressive vaccination drive of the government, he is hopeful that travel restrictions will ease in the latter part of the year.

BI gears up to impose travel ban on India; clarifies ban not ‘nationality-specific’

Marje Pelayo   •   April 28, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — The Bureau of Immigration (BI) is gearing up in preparation for the imposed restrictions for travelers coming from India.

The resolution issued by the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF) bars the entry of travelers coming from India or those with a travel history to India within the last 14 days preceding arrival beginning April 29 until May 14.

“We will implement this measure seen by the IATF as our response to the emerging situation in India,” said Immigration Commissioner Jaime Morente.

The said ban has been imposed following the detection and spread of a new covid variant first detected in India.

“The IATF deems that this proactive restriction must be put in place to slow down the surge in COVID-19 cases, stop further spread of variants, and allow the health system to prepare, essentially protecting more lives,” he added.

Port Operations Division Chief Atty. Carlos Capulong clarified, however, that the travel ban is not specific to any nationality but it applies to any traveler coming from the region.

“We are conducting 100% passport inspection to determine the travel history of an arriving person,” he said.

“If we see that the traveler has been to India within the last 14 days, then he will be excluded and boarded on the next available flight back to his port of origin,” he added.

Capulong added that they are not expecting incoming passengers from India as the IATF resolution clearly stated that airlines are directed not to allow the boarding of passengers pursuant to travel restrictions.

Passengers already in transit who will arrive before April 29 may be allowed, but will be referred to the appropriate agencies for stricter quarantine and testing protocols, to be subjected to an absolute facility-based 14-day quarantine period, the official concluded.

BI intercepts fake OFWs with falsified OECs bound for Qatar

Marje Pelayo   •   April 23, 2021

MANILA, Philippines – Personnel of the Bureau of Immigration (BI) at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) on Tuesday (April 22) intercepted two Filipinas illegally recruited to work in Qatar.

According to a report from BOC’s Travel Control and Enforcement Unit (TCEU), the two Filipinas were intercepted at the departure area of NAIA Terminal 3 when they attempted to board a flight via Qatar Airways.

“The quick eye of our immigration officers in the frontlines saw that there was reason to suspect the duo, upon noticing that their Overseas Employment Certificates (OECs) are not encoded in our linked database with the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA),” TCEU Chief Ma. Timotea Barizo said in her report to Immigration Chief Jaime Morente.

As a matter of protocol, the duo were referred to the terminal’s POEA Labor Assistance Center (LAC) to verify their documents.

They returned presenting a validated slip, which the officers discovered were falsified.

During questioning by the BI’s TCEU, both victims then confessed that their OEC validation forms were only given by their handler near the airport’s exit, to whom they each paid P35,000 in return for the document package they presented.

According to Barizo, falsifying OECs is futile because they have an integrated system with the POEA to check if all departing OFWs are properly documented.

“Securing the proper documents and clearances from the POEA is crucial for all aspiring OFWs to protect them from abusive companies and employers,” Barizo further reminded.

Morente lauded the efforts of immigration officers against human trafficking but expressed his dismay towards trafficking and illegal recruitment syndicates.

“This should now serve as a warning to syndicates who may have falsely believed that the bureau has become lenient in screening documents during the pandemic,” Morente said.

Both victims were turned over to the Inter-Agency Council Against Trafficking (IACAT) for further investigation and assistance.

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