PH Immigration to use digitized arrival cards, boarding passes for passengers under ‘new normal’

Robie de Guzman   •   May 21, 2020   •   515

MANILA, Philippines – The Bureau of Immigration (BI) is looking to implement the use of digitized arrival cards and records for “more effective passenger monitoring” and lessen person-to-person contact at ports amid the continuing outbreak of novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19).

In a statement on Wednesday, Immigration Commissioner Jaime Morente said the measure comes after President Rodrigo Duterte informed Congress that the bureau will soon launch an advanced passenger processing and information system, and use digitized arrival cards and boarding passes for international passengers entering and exiting the country’s ports.

“These new paperless travel control systems and procedures are just among several innovative protocols that we will be introducing under a new normal environment during this pandemic,” Morente said.

The Immigration chief explained that the new protocols are designed not only to achieve social distancing by lessening person-to-person contact between officers and passengers but also to facilitate contact tracing, if needed.

“While the Bureau of Quarantine (BOQ) collects information from arriving passengers for contact tracing, we have extended our help by providing other details that are found in our arrival cards,” he said.

“These information have proven to be helpful in locating persons that need to be monitored,” he added.

Morente further stated that the bureau is discussing with different airlines the mechanics and procedures for implementing the said initiatives so these could become operational as soon as possible.

He said these initiatives are among the administration’s priority projects as this “would not only help in contact tracing but would also allow our port operations to more effectively monitor and screen arriving foreign nationals.”

Said system is being used by many developed countries, which we can also adopt and use in our fight against COVID-19,” he said.

According to BI Port Operations Division chief Grifton Medina, the digitized arrival cards will be filled out by Philippine-bound passengers at their port of origin prior to their departure for the Philippines.

“This would enable us to easily track details of a passenger as the data will be integrated and sorted in our system,” Medina said.

“Should information be needed for contact tracing, we wouldn’t have to manually dig into boxes of arrival cards which take up precious time. With one click, we would be able to provide the data faster to contact tracers,” he added.

Medina said the move to transition from paper-based arrival cards aims to reduce objects that may possibly transmit infectious agents from a passenger to the officers.

He added that the bureau is likewise urging airlines to use QR or bar codes in a passenger’s mobile device as their boarding pass, which will also be integrated into the BI’s system.

“This will create a fully paperless transaction during immigration assessment, reduce the risk of transmission, and allow for more efficient monitoring,” he said.

PH Immigration deports 10 more illegal aliens

Robie de Guzman   •   June 30, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – The Bureau of Immigration (BI) on Tuesday said it has deported 10 more illegal aliens detained at its warden facility in Taguig City.

In a statement, the BI said the 10 foreigners include eight Chinese nationals and two Mongolians.

They departed from the Ninoy Aquino International Airport via separate flights bound for China last June 19, 24 and 25.

“All of them have been placed on the immigration blacklist of undesirable aliens upon orders of our board of commissioners. Thus, they are now banned from re-entering the Philippines,” BI port operations chief Grifton Medina said.

It was learned that five of the Chinese deportees are wanted in their country for economic crimes due to their involvement in illegal online gaming operations and telecom fraud.

The three other Chinese nationals were deported for overstaying and committing fraud and misrepresentation, while the two Mongolians are alleged female sex workers caught in one of the raids of prostitution dens in Metro Manila last year.

According to Immigration Commissioner Jaime Morente, the deportation was carried out as part of the bureau’s efforts to decongest and prevent the spread of novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) at its detention facility located in Camp Bagong Diwa.

“We will continue to send home these foreign inmates once they have been issued deportation orders and provided they have no pending criminal cases in court,” Morente said.

“We are doing this to safeguard the health not only of the foreign detainees but also that of our personnel assigned to our warden facility,” he added.

The BI earlier reported it had deported seven Chinese nationals who are facing charges for economic crimes and illegal black sand mining.

BI: 16,000 foreign, Filipino seafarers cleared at Manila port

Robie de Guzman   •   June 26, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – More than 16,000 Filipino and foreign seafarers from cruise ships that arrived and anchored at the Manila Bay have been processed and cleared during the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic, the Bureau of Immigration (BI) said Friday.

In a statement, the BI said a total of 16,287 sailors were cleared by boarding inspectors – 11,189 of which are Filipinos while 5,098 are foreign nationals.

The bureau said they disembarked from 42 vessels between April 16 to June 15 after undergoing quarantine and getting tested aboard their ships.

The BI added that around 2,300 seafarers remain quarantined aboard their vessels.

Repatriated Filipino seafarers are immediately transported to their places of residence through the help of the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration.

Foreign seafarers, on the other hand, are only allowed to disembark upon presentation of a confirmed outbound plane ticket to their country of origin. Immigration personnel will escort them to the airport on the date and time of their scheduled departure, the agency said.

Foreign sailors with Filipino spouses are also allowed to disembark and join their families, provided that they submit a letter-request, marriage certificate, photocopy of passport of Filipino spouse, negative COVID-19 swab test result, and endorsement from the Department of Foreign Affairs, the bureau added.

The BI also shared that last June 11, a group of 122 Sri Lankan seafarers were repatriated to their homeland at the request of their embassy in Manila.

BI blacklists 21 Chinese nationals for overstaying in PH

Aileen Cerrudo   •   June 24, 2020

The Bureau of Immigration (BI) has blacklisted 21 Chinese nationals for overstaying without valid justification.

The 21 Chinese nationals arrived in the country on separate dates last December and January and availed of the government’s Visa Upon Arrival (VUA) program.

BI Commissioner Jaime Morente issued the blacklist after the Bureau directed the aliens to immediately leave the country after they have updated their stay and paid the required fees, fines and penalties.

“As a consequence of their being placed in our blacklist, these Chinese nationals are now barred from re-entering the Philippines for violating the conditions of their stay,” he said.

The VUA program is a landed visa scheme that the government launched three years ago to attract more Chinese tourists into the country. It was previously suspending by the BI last January due to the coronavirus outbreak in Wuhan and other places in China. AAC

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